by Jeff Skinner
Webb Simpson is our latest major champion and another first time grand slam winner. The 26 year old Simpson survived golf’s toughest test at the U.S. Open to claim his first major in only his fifth start in a major. Simpson has continued the trend of first time major winners. The last nine majors have been won by players breaking through for their first major.
Phil Mickelson was the last multiple major winner at the 2010 Masters. Prior to that Angel Cabrera’s win at the 2009 Masters was the last time a winner had multiple major wins. That’s only two of the last fourteen major winners that could be called multiple winners.
Is this the new normal? Working backwards from Simpson these are the prior major winners: Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell.
Now at the time of each of these wins, all these players were heralded as ‘great players’ and with the exception of Clarke all were labeled as having multiple major wins in their future. But so far we are still waiting for any of them to repeat. As a matter of fact only McDowell has even had a sniff at another grand slam title this week at The U.S. Open.
This first time winner phenomenon is relatively new. From 1998 to 2008 there were seven seasons that saw only a single first time major winner and only one year (2004) that saw all four majors claimed by first timers. And during every one of those seasons at least one major was won by a multiple winner. Certainly Tiger Woods was responsible for much of that but there were plenty of others: Olazabal, Singh, Goosen, Els, Mickelson, and Harrington.
Meaning no disrespect to all the recent major winners, as I revel in all their stories but there seems to be a lack of something surrounding the grand slam events lately. Much like Dan Jenkins, I like my majors won by a player with ‘major chops.’ The list of one and done winners has grown too long for my liking.
Getting that second major win has never seemed so difficult and elusive. Just ask Jim Furyk or Graeme McDowell. But becoming a multiple major winner carries more weight than anything else in the game.
Winning a single major is no minor feat but a player can certainly be handed a championship as competitors crumble under the pressure. But winning a second major is that provenance, that confirmation that separates a player from the legions of single winners.
Today’s trend of first time, one time winners while offering interesting stories of fresh faced, potentially great players is entertaining I think it’s time some of these guys finally stepped up and won another.
Want to go down in history as more than a one hit wonder? Win another major and separate yourself from all the other one and done players. It what truly makes a player great. And lately we haven’t seen enough of that.