Setting your fantasy lineup for the PGA Championship in Atlanta this weekend? Making your list of stars, and checking it twice? You may want to give it one more cruise, and add a few less-known players to the mix. Alone among golf's four majors, the PGA is the breeding ground for what cynics would call fluke champions (but we, being more genteel, will refer to them as single-major winners).
Consider the evidence. Here's a list of golfers who have won the PGA since 1977, but no other major title over the course of their careers:
Lanny Wadkins (1977)
John Mahaffey (1978)
David Graham (1979)
Hal Sutton (1983)
Bob Tway (1986)
Jeff Sluman (1988)
Wayne Grady (1990)
Paul Azinger (1993)
Steve Elkington (1995)
Mark Brooks (1996)
Davis Love III (1997)
David Toms (2001)
Rich Beem (2002)
Shaun Micheel (2003)
Y-E Yang (2009)
Martin Kaymer (2010)
We've done the math for you; that's 16 winners in the past 34 PGAs who have never won another major. Of course, this list comes with a few caveats; Kaymer, for example, looks quite likely to add another big trophy or two before he heads for the Champions Tour in 2034. And emphatically, not every name on this list is a pure fluke (Love is Exhibit A).
But there are some flukes. Beem has only two other PGA Tour wins in his career (and one of those came two weeks before his major). Grady has only one other PGA prize in his trophy case. Micheel, somehow, has never won a PGA event other than his '03 PGA title.
Don't get us wrong; there are surprise winners in the other three major events, but nowhere near the number who hoist the Wanamaker Trophy and nothing else. While we're always mindful here of Damon Runyon's sage advice – "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that's the way you bet" – in this instance, that advice might need a little watering down. Catching lightning in a bottle is always a risky proposition, but if you're risk-tolerant and want to take a flier on a long-shot, this may be a good week to give it a try. Here are a few names that might not pop up on many pre-tournament radars in other majors, but deserve a look this weekend:
Aaron Baddeley – His driving accuracy is a weakness, but a combination of a decent GIR percentage (almost 66|PERCENT|) and better-than-average scrambling gives him a solid shot. His scoring average is at a career low this season (70.19), due in large part to an improvement in his putting.
Robert Garrigus – There's something to be said for a guy who absolutely kills the ball off the tee, although sometimes he has a hard time finding the golf course from there. Like Bads, he reaches 2/3 of his greens, but he isn't as good a scrambler. Still, if he keeps the ball straight this weekend, he'll have a big advantage over merely average Tour drivers.
Kim Kyung-Tae (sometimes listed as K-T Kim) – If you've been busy following the other Kim (Anthony), you've missed one of the hottest golfers on the planet. Kim has climbed all the way into the top 20 of the Official World Golf Rankings. You can get obscene betting odds of 125:1 on him (well behind tournament favorite Rory McIlroy, at 8:1).
If you want to stick with a somewhat safer bet for a first-time breakout winner, go with Jason Day, who's been second in two majors already this season, and is playing with a maturity well beyond his years. He's #7 in the world, and is probably the best player right now without a major other than Luke Donald.