Sean O'Hair arrives at Turnberry with a win at Quail Hollow and five other top-10 finishes this year. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
Who'll be the next Glover and break through in a major?
Lucas Glover became the latest first-time major winner last month at the U.S. Open. Who can follow him into that elite club? T.J. Auclair puts the spotlight on five players with real possibilities.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
Lucas Glover will never forget walking up to the 18th green to put the finishing touches on his first major victory at the 109th U.S. Open last month.
The South Carolina native emerged as the champion at Bethpage Black after turning back an impressive cast of characters that included major winners Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Tiger Woods.
With Glover’s recent triumph in mind, I began thinking about which American players could follow in his footsteps and break through to win a major championship, perhaps even this week’s Open Championship at Turnberry?
Here’s a look at five guys you might want to keep an eye on:
Sean O’Hair. The three-time PGA TOUR winner possesses great skill in all aspects of the game. He picked up his maiden win at the John Deere Classic in 2005 and has since added the 2008 PODS Championship and the Quail Hollow Championship in May to his resume.
Along with the win in Charlotte, O’Hair has five other top-10 finishes in just 11 starts this season. In five years on TOUR, O’Hair already has top-25 finishes in each of the four majors, highlighted by a tie for 10th at the Masters in April. He’s also finished in the top 15 twice at the Open Championship.
Anthony Kim. Since becoming a PGA TOUR member in 2007, Kim has been one of the brightest young stars in the game. Kim picked up his first TOUR win at Quail Hollow last year and followed that victory two months later with a win at Congressional in the AT&T National, meaning the 24-year-old already has wins on two major-caliber golf courses.
In addition, Kim has not missed a cut in seven major appearances, the most impressive of which was a tie for seventh in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 2008. He thrives on pressure, too -- remember his 5 and 4 win over Sergio Garcia in 2008 Ryder Cup singles matches? Furthermore, Kim is as dynamic as they come. You need look no further than the record 11 birdies he put up in the second round of the 2009 Masters.
Hunter Mahan. His lone PGA TOUR win came at the 2007 Travelers Championship, but there’s no denying the fact that Mahan has become one of the most consistent performers on TOUR. He has not missed a cut since the 2008 PGA Championship -- a stretch of 22 consecutive starts.
Furthermore, Mahan has recorded top-six finishes in each of his last three starts, including a rally at Congressional in the AT&T National with a final-round, 8-under 62, which was four shots better than any other player in the field that day, to finish in second place, one behind Tiger Woods.
Nick Watney. He’s cooled off a touch since a rip-roaring start to the 2009 season when he won the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, finished second at the World Golf Championships-CA Championship and tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, but Watney is capable of breaking through at any time. The fierce competitor has morphed into a world-class player in 2009 and because of that, he can’t be overlooked in the majors.
Charles Howell III. It’s hard to imagine that Howell has just two wins in his career on the PGA TOUR. The expectations for Howell when he turned pro were higher than anyone not named Tiger Woods. He’s enjoyed a nice career, but it’s also one that has left a lot to be desired. Surely there’s no major this Augusta, Ga., native would rather win than the Masters, but rest assured he won’t be picky, either.
When his game is clicking on all cylinders, Howell is as good as they come. Since the start of May, Howell has played far from his best with five missed cuts over those six starts. He’s going to need his best game and then some to come out on top at Turnberry, but it’s not unfathomable to think Howell has what it takes to become the next Glover and win his first major championship.