Golfers around the world could not fail to be inspired by Phil Mickelson and his stellar performance at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. At the age of 50, Mickelson became the oldest winner of one of golf’s four major championships, taking his tally to six majors and 45 PGA events.
Mickelson is also a member of a fairly elite club. Golfers who have won three of the four legs of the career Grand Slam.
The membership of this elite club? Just 12.
At 50, he does still have time to complete the Grand Slam, unlike many of the members of this club and join the super-elite club of golfers to have completed the Grand Slam. That number? Just five.
So, let’s take a close look at those 12 golfers who are one major away from completing the Grand Slam and see what they need to do it.
Missing Major: US Open
We may as well start with ‘Lefty’. After winning the PGA Championship, Phil took his total of Majors to six having won the Masters three times, the Open Championship once and the PGA Championship previously in 2005.
Mickelson’s only elusive major is the US Open - a tournament he has finished runner-up on six separate occasions, most recently in 2013. Perhaps his best chance to complete the Slam was at the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot when an errant drive on the last hole led to a double bogey, handing the win to Geoff Ogilvy.
Following his win at the PGA Championship, Betway has Mickelson at 34.00 to win the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines in California.
Missing Major: The Masters
One of the three players on the current list of players who can still complete the Grand Slam is Rory McIlroy. At the age of 32, McIlroy still has plenty of time on his hands to complete the Grand Slam and it seems a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ he will get the job done.
Like Mickelson, McIlroy has had his chances already at the Masters, most notably in 2011 when he was leading by four shots only to collapse on the final day, shooting the worst round in history by a golfer leading the Masters after the third round. He ended up in a tie for 15th that year and his best finish at the Masters is fourth back in 2015.
Each year, the pressure seems to mount on Rory to get the job done but it still seems a distinct possibility that he will make that elite club of Grand Slam winners six in the not too distant future. He is already one of the favourites for the 2022 Masters which is still ten months away.
Missing Major: PGA Championship
The youngest member on this list, Jordan Spieth is another, like McIlroy, with plenty of time on his hands to complete his Grand Slam. Spieth’s career started in blistering fashion and it seemed at the time like he might be one of the fastest players in history to complete the Grand Slam, picking up both the Masters and US Open in 2015 and the Open Championship two years later. 2015 was also his best finish at the elusive PGA Championship where he finished runner-up.
The following year, at the 2016 Masters, Spieth endured the lowest point of his relatively young career, when he suffered one of the biggest collapses in Masters history. Leading by five strokes heading into the back nine, Spieth bogeyed 10 and 11 before carding a quadruple bogey on the 12th after hitting two balls into the water.
Since then, Spieth has had a roller coaster journey in terms of form, with serious questions asked about whether he would ever be in a position to compete in a major championship again. 2021 has seen a big return to form for Spieth, picking up his first win in 1,351 days by winning the Valero Texas Open and he has a number of top-ten finishes to his name.
The best of the rest
The remaining nine golfers on the list of players stuck on three of the four majors are all retired or no longer with us so unfortunately will never get the opportunity to complete the Grand Slam. These players include:
- Jim Barnes (4 majors in total - missing US Masters*)
- Tommy Armour (3 majors in total - missing US Masters*)
- Walter Hagen (11 majors in total - missing US Masters*)
- Byron Nelson (5 majors in total - missing Open Championship)
- Sam Snead (7 majors in total - missing US Open)
- Arnold Palmer (7 majors in total - missing PGA Championship)
- Lee Trevino (6 majors in total - missing US Masters)
- Raymond Floyd (4 majors in total - missing Open Championship)
- Tom Watson (8 majors in total - missing PGA Championship)
* By the time the US Masters was introduced as a major championship in 1934, Barnes, Armour and Hagen were all in their 40s - not the typical age range you would expect for a Masters winner.
The elite Grand Slam of majors club
We couldn’t end this post without talking about the elite club these golfers are trying to gain entry to - those who have done the career Grand Slam. There are currently five golfers who have won all four majors:
- Gene Sarazen
- Ben Hogan
- Gary Player
- Jack Nicklaus
- Tiger Woods
Woods and Nicklaus have won each of the four majors at least three times and Woods is the only player to have held all four majors simultaneously, albeit across two seasons: The US Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2000 and the US Masters in 2001.
Only time will tell if Mickelson, McIlroy or Spieth can join this elusive club, or whether they will in fact be joined by a host of other current professionals currently looking to add to their major collection including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson.