Lee Westwood endured another near-miss as he finished tied for fourth at The Open, and the luckless 46-year-old now remains without an elusive major title in 82 attempts.
The Englishman carries the unfortunate moniker of the best player yet to win one of golf’s big four events and in this instance, it would appear to be spot on.
Westwood was the man who knocked Tiger Woods off the top of the world rankings in October 2010 and sat atop the list for 22 weeks in total, regaining the position having been knocked off by Martin Kaymer after 17 weeks.
He has won more Ryder Cups than any other European player (7), has 42 tournament victories across five continents, including 23 on the European Tour and two on the PGA Tour, and is a two-time European Order of Merit/Race2Dubai winner.
Clearly the only thing missing is that major title, and Westwood has come closer than most, on more than one occasion, and in each of the four events with 18 top-10 finishes, nine top threes and three runners-up spots.
We take a look at the closest of his near misses, charting his nine top-three finishes…
Masters (2016 – T2nd; 2012 – T3rd; 2010 2nd)
Westwood had long maintained that the first major of the year, on the manicured grounds of Augusta National, did not suit his game but, as has been the case with many, experience has sharpened his game around the Georgia course.
In fact, prior to 2010 he had only a tie for sixth in 1999 to show for his first 10 appearances, and since then his form at Augusta reads 2, T11, T3, T8, 7, T46, T2 and it is now considered his best chance of joining that exclusive major club.
In 2016, Westwood finished alongside Jordan Spieth behind Danny Willett. A memorable final round saw Willett come through the field as defending champion Spieth collapsed, but Westwood had his chances.
Having begun the day four shots off Spieth’s lead, Westwood bogeyed the first to fall five adrift and, despite three birdies on his front nine, a dominant Spieth had moved to -7, leaving the Englishman six shots behind.
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However Augusta’s back nine swallowed up the defending champion and when Westwood eagled the 15th he was just one shot behind, but he gave one of those shots back at the next hole and watched on as playing partner Willett claimed the Green Jacket and Westwood had his second Masters’ runners-up spot.
In 2012, Westwood fired a first-round 67 to lead by one but he followed that with a 73-72 on Friday and Saturday to fall five shots back going into Sunday afternoon. A final-round 68 left him eventually two shots out of the play-off but he was never really close enough to mount a challenge and Bubba Watson edged out Louis Oosthuizen for the title.
A first-ever runner-up finish in a major came in 2010 when rounds of 67 and 68 left him in a tie for the lead alongside Ian Poulter at the halfway stage. A third successive round in the 60s left him at 12 under par and one shot clear of a chasing pack that included Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
A bogey at the first was followed by a birdie at the second to preserve his lead and, while Woods never got going, it was a sensational back nine from Mickelson that eventually did for Westwood, the American birdied four of the last seven holes to claim the title and Westwood’s final round of 71 left him three behind the champion.
US Open (2011 – T3rd; 2008 – 3rd)
In 2011 at Congressional he finished some 10 shots behind a rampant Rory McIlroy who claimed his first major title in dominant fashion.
But 2008 at Torrey Pines was a very different story and perhaps one of Westwood’s best chances to claim that elusive major crown.
Rounds of 70-71-70 left Westwood at one under par after three rounds, one shot adrift of leader and playing partner Tiger Woods in the final group.
A bogey from Westwood saw him drop back to -1 but he was joined by Woods, who double-bogeyed the opening hole to open the door for the rest of the field.
Steady pars were enough for Westwood to take a tie for the lead by the fifth, and the outright lead on his own on the sixth when Rocco Mediate dropped back.
A first birdie of the round came on the final hole of his front nine for Westwood before three dropped shots in four saw him fall two behind Woods.
Despite his best efforts, Westwood could not make up the one shot he needed after a birdie at 14 and he ended up just one shot out of the play-off which saw Woods beat Mediate in Monday’s 18-hole shoot-out.
Open (2013 – T3rd; 2010 – 2nd; 2009 – T3rd)
A two-shot, 54-hole lead at Muirfield in 2013 looked like it might end Westwood’s wait, despite Hunter Mahan and Tiger Woods lurking ominously a couple back.
But it was to be a charging Phil Mickelson and a wilting Westwood that ensured more major misery on the final day.
Mickelson came from five shots back to claim his fifth major title and did not hit the front until the 14th hole of his final round.
For Westwood a birdie at the fifth and a fading Woods looked to have him in great shape, but he was to find no further birdies and relinquished his lead to Adam Scott on the eighth. Two further bogeys ensured his race was run with Mickelson having posted a clubhouse lead of three-under par.
In 2010 at St Andrews he claimed a runners-up place to Louis Oosthuizen who ran away from the field, while in 2009 at Turnberry his was just one of a number of fairytales ended by Stewart Cink, and it was perhaps the major Westwood will look back on most as the one he should have won.
Steady progress left Westwood two shots behind Tom Watson going into the final round and when the veteran bogeyed two of the first three holes, Westwood was in second spot behind Ross Fisher.
A quadruple bogey from Fisher on the fifth saw his challenge falter and it looked like it would be Westwood’s day when he eagled the seventh to sit one shot clear of a regrouping Watson who was compiling a story for the ages at the ripe old age of 59.
Despite a bogey at the 15th, Westwood still sat in a tie for the lead, but a birdie at 17 coupled with two other dropped shots in the final three holes ensured he missed out on the play-off where Cink denied Watson and the game of golf its ultimate story.
PGA Championship (2009 – T3rd)
The major where Westwood has perhaps had the least success is the final one of the year and his only top-three finish came in 2009 when Korea’s Yang Yong-eun overcame a two-shot deficit to Tiger Woods at the start of play to claim the title.
Westwood carded a final round of 70 to finish alongside Rory McIlroy in a tie for 3rd but was never in the hunt for the prestigious Wanamaker trophy.