Thursday, April 11, 2013

Can Sergio, Westwood or Kuchar finally win the big one?

Lee Westwood ... Sergio Garcia ... Steve Stricker ... Luke Donald ... Matt Kuchar ... Adam Scott ... Justin Rose ... Ian Poulter.

There. That about covers it.

Colin Montgomerie is gone, but the least-coveted title in golf -- Best Never to Have Won a Major -- didn't retire with him.

Given their bodies of work, those eight players strike me as the top contenders for that title. Now, which of them -- if any -- will make a legitimate run at the title they really want: Masters champion?

Based on what happened in Round 1 on Thursday, it certainly appears Garcia will be a serious challenger. He was wonderful in the first 10 holes, doing whatever he wanted in starting -5. Though Sergio had to do some serious scrambling the rest of the way, he still finished a bogey-free -6 and was tied for the lead with Marc Leishman, who never will be accused of being the Best Never to Have Won a Major.

Kuchar is right there as well, at -4. Scott is another shot back, followed a shot later by a large group that includes Westwood and Rose (as well as some dude named Eldrick). Donald is still within reach at -1.

Two guys at opposite ends of last year's Ryder Cup drama -- Stricker (+1) and Poulter (+4) -- are probably toast.

While others are paying attention to Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and the ageless Fred Couples, I can't help but focus on the BNHWM contenders ... and think one of them will be masterful enough to remove his name from the list forever.

So, which one?

Well, I have been picking Westwood to break through forever, so I'm done with that. Sergio rarely contends at the Masters and seems to find ways to lose when he has had chances to win other majors. Nothing in the resumes of either Donald or Scott suggests this will be either's time to come through in the clutch. Rose was huge in the Ryder Cup but never makes me feel he's about to win on the biggest stage.

I'm going with Kuchar, the ultra-consistent guy with the cherubic cheeks and the permanent smile. He's great, he's in his prime, and he always seems to be relaxed and enjoying himself.

I'm saying he has the lead at the turn Sunday and then holds off Tiger and another golfer or two to win his first major championship ... and shed the title nobody wants.

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