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  Monday, 17 June, 2002, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Still chasing golf's holy grail
Phil Mickelson congratulates 2001 PGA winner David Toms
Mickelson was a shot short again at the 2001 PGA

"The best player never to have won a major." It is the epitaph every golfer dreads.

Like being the best player on a bad team, or a world record-holder with no golds, nobody wants the Tom Finney award for consistent excellence with no reward.

While consistent excellence brings its rewards in golf, every player knows it takes a victory at the Masters, US Open, Open or PGA Championship to book a place in golf's history books.

The greats are remembered for their records in the majors, not on their ability to earn money or maintain high rankings.

With the second major of 2002 now upon us, it is time to turn our attention to the men who need a major victory more than most.

Phil Mickelson (US)
Age: 32
Current ranking: 2
Top 10 finishes at majors: 13
2001 US Open: Tied for 7th

World number two is still looking for his first major
Mick has suffered more than most at majors
Right-handed at everything except golf, Mickelson is perhaps the biggest victim of the Tiger Woods phenomenon.

A sparkling amateur, Mickelson has been a consistent winner on the PGA Tour since turning pro in 1992.

Despite building a reputation for converting third-round leads early in his career, he has developed a worrying trend for folding under pressure over the last three years.

Mickelson badly needs a major to step out of Woods' shadow - the closest he has come is second at the 2001 PGA and 1999 US Open.

Sergio Garcia (Spain)
Age: 22
Current ranking: 5
Top 10 finishes at majors: 3
2001 US Open: Tied for 12th

Sergio Garcia lost by one shot to Tiger Woods at 1999 PGA Championship
Garcia went agonisingly close at the 1999 PGA
It is perhaps a bit harsh to say a 22-year-old is overdue a major, but Garcia is that good.

A brilliant amateur, Garcia turned pro in 1999 and won the Irish Open in his sixth start. He then missed out on becoming the youngest winner of a major for 129 years when Woods beat him by a shot at the PGA.

He followed that display with a superb Ryder Cup debut at Brookline, where he won three and a half points out of five.

Garcia now shares his time between the US and European Tours, and is tipped by many to be a thorn in Woods' side for years to come.

Colin Montgomerie (GB)
Age: 38
Current ranking: 16
Top 10 finishes at majors: 8
2001 US Open: Tied for 52nd

Monty is running out of chances to win his major
Monty is running out of chances to win his major
Europe's best player for most of the 1990s, Montgomerie has been saddled with the 'best player never to win a major' longer than anyone else here.

Three runner-up cheques at majors are scant return for a player of his ability.

His seven-year reign as European number one, fine Ryder Cup record and 38 professional titles guarantee a place in golf history.

But without a major he will be forever remembered as an unfulfilled talent.

Darren Clarke (GB)
Age: 33
Current ranking: 18
Top 10 finishes at majors: 6
2001 US Open: Tied for 30th

Darren Clarke had a disappointing 2002 Masters
Clarke has not produced his best form in the US
The popular Ulsterman is almost as famous for his cigars and fast cars as he is for his aggressive shot-making.

But underneath the genial exterior is a cool and determined competitor, as Woods and David Duval discovered when Clarke beat them en route to the 2000 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Clarke first emerged as a potential major winner when he tied for second at the 1997 Open, and he has twice been runner-up in the Order of Merit.

But Clarke has still not been truly convincing on American soil, and his best US Open finish is a tie for 10th in 1999.

Jim Furyk (US)
Age: 32
Current ranking: 9
Top 10 finishes at majors: 9
2001 US Open: Tied for 62nd

Jim Furyk would be a popular winner at Bethpage
The unsung Furyk would be a worth major winner
Furyk's inclusion on this list may surprise some people, as his unflashy manner and unorthodox style do not suggest major-winning potential.

But the Ryder Cup stalwart has been a consistent performer during his ten years on the US tour, and his world ranking of nine is a fair reflection of a superb record at golf's biggest events.

Now fully fit after a series of shoulder and elbow injuries, Furyk has been in fine form this year - beating Tiger, Singh, Duval et al to land last month's Memorial in Ohio.

Not one of golf's biggest hitters, Furyk may struggle on Bethpage's long fairways, but his accuracy and temperament are second to none.

BBC Sport Online's US Open 2002 news section

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