The U.S. Open has been played since 1895, and many of the greatest golfers who've played the game since then have won one or more U.S. Open titles. But not all of them. There are some surprising absences on the list of U.S. Open champions. Who are the most surprising? We count down the Top 10 golfers never to win a U.S. Open.
10. Nick Price
Price is a 3-time major champion and 2-time U.S. PGA Player of the Year. But he never won the U.S. Open. His number of Top 10 finishes and missed cuts in this event is identical - four of each. Price's best finish was fourth in 1998 and 1992.
9. Jimmy Demaret
Demaret won 31 times on the PGA Tour, including three Masters. In fact, Demaret was the first 3-time Masters champion. He finished second at the 1948 U.S. Open, and also finished third, fourth and sixth over the years. But he never won.
8. Greg Norman
Norman won the British Open twice, but never the U.S. Open. He was runner-up twice, the second time in 1995, but most famously in 1984 when he lost an 18-hole playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller. That was Norman's first playoff loss at a major; he eventually lost in extra holes at all four majors. But he won all around the world, including 20 times on the PGA Tour, with scoring titles, money titles and a Player of the Year award thrown in.
7. Nick Faldo
Faldo won six majors - three British Opens and three Masters (but he won only three "regular" PGA Tour events). And he came close at the U.S. Open, losing an 18-hole playoff to Curtis Strange in 1988. He had four other Top 10 finishes.
6. Vijay Singh
A 34-time PGA Tour winner and 3-time major champion, the closest Singh came to winning a U.S. Open was third place in 1999. He had six other Top 10 finishes.
5. Bobby Locke
Locke won the British Open four times. One of the first great international players to play full-time on the PGA Tour, Locke proved his greatness in the USA. On an exhibition tour with Sam Snead, Locke won 12 of their 14 matches. On the PGA Tour in the late 1940s, Locke played 59 events. He won 11 of them, finished second 10 times, third eight times and fourth five times (34 out of 59 tournaments in the Top 4). He still holds the PGA Tour record for largest margin of victory (16 strokes).
But the PGA Tour in 1949 banned Locke in a dispute over playing commitments, and although the ban was lifted a couple years later, Locke rarely returned to America. He played the U.S. Open seven times. In one of those, he withdrew. In five of the six remaining years, he finished in the Top 5. A tie for 14th was his worst finish.
4. Peter Thomson
Peter Thomson is one of the best links golfers ever. He won the British Open five times. But he never played much in America, and didn't have much success when he did (until he spent a full year on the Champions Tour, that is: he won 9 times in 1985). In just five U.S. Open appearances, Thomson's best finish was fourth.
3. Seve Ballesteros
Ballesteros was an amazing shotmaker but an erratic driver. The shotmaking helped him win three British Open titles and two Masters championships, but the erratic driving hurt him on U.S. Open layouts. In 18 appearances, he finished in the Top 10 only three times. Ballesteros' best finish was third in 1987.
2. Phil Mickelson
Mickelson is the hard-luck champion of the U.S. Open: He's finished second six times, the tournament record. Nobody else has more than four runner-up finishes. Mickelson has won each of the other three majors at least once.
Mickelson's most agonizing close call was the 2006 U.S. Open, where he reached the final tee with a 1-stroke lead. But instead of playing cautiously off the tee, he hit driver and it all got away from him. He double-bogied and fell to second. "I am such an idiot," he said afterward.
1. Sam Snead
Sam Snead won seven majors and a PGA Tour record 82 tournaments. Many golf historians feel Snead had the best swing of all-time. But somehow, this great among greats never managed to win a U.S. Open.
There were plenty of close calls. He finished second four times, third once and fifth twice. He had 12 Top 10 finishes in all. He made the cut at age 61 (a record) in 1973.
Some of his close calls were heartbreaking, none moreso than in 1939. Believing he needed to birdie the final hole to win, when in fact he needed only to par, Snead played the 72nd hole aggressively ... and badly. He got an 8 on the hole and the U.S. Open title got away. Another heartbreaker came in 1949, when he played an 18-hole playoff with Lew Worsham. Snead needed to make a 2 1/2-foot putt on the 18th to extend the playoff, but missed.
There is no question: Sam Snead is the greatest player never to win the U.S. Open.
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