Winner's circle closed to Duval, Els and Love

They are among the best players in the world, considered the chief challengers to Tiger Woods. They already have earned more than $1 million this year, and the season is not even four months old.

Lately, however, David Duval, Davis Love III and Ernie Els share one other distinction that has become a troubling trend.

They can't seem to win.

All of them have been there on the back nine on Sunday, either in the lead or close enough that it seems like only a matter of time before they're holding an oversized check and hoisting a trophy for the cameras.

The latest opportunity belonged to Els, a two-time US Open champion whose credentials carried him only so far in the MCI Classic.

With a birdie sandwiched between two great bunker saves, he was at 14 under and three strokes clear, cruising toward what looked like a sure victory. Suddenly, shockingly, the Big Easy became the Big Pushover.

"I don't know what happened," Els said after playing the final 11 holes in 5 over to finish five strokes behind Stewart Cink. "I just lost it. What can you do?"

That's a consolation speech Love should know by heart. Love was only three strokes behind Els to start the final round and quickly bowed out, just as he did in the Masters a week early, just as he did in the Bay Hill Invitational a month ago.

Duval wasn't at Harbour Town. He folded his tent a week earlier at Augusta National, one stroke out of the lead with seven holes to play when he hit a bad shot at a bad time. He wound up with a bogey on the par-5 13th and finished four strokes behind Vijay Singh.

Just more than a year ago, Duval was No 1 in the world, a winner in 11 of his last 34 tournaments. He is 0-for-23 since, dating to his victory in Atlanta the week before last year's Masters.

Els is 0-for-26 going back to his victory a year ago in Los Angeles, where he held off Woods, Duval and Love down the stretch at Riviera.

"When you haven't won like me, for almost a year now on this tour, it feels like you've got to work a little harder to get back there," Els said. "I've felt like that for quite some time."

It must feel even longer for Love.

He followed his first major, the PGA Championship at Winged Foot in 1997, with a victory the next year in the MCI Classic. Since then, he has had six runner-up finishes, eight chances on Sunday afternoons, a lot of money and no hardware.

He is 0-for-52 since his last victory.

"Time flies out here," Love said. "I think it would seem like a long time if I hadn't played well at all in between, but I've been close and had a lot of exciting things happen in between. So it hasn't been grinding on me or anything."

Duval is the most puzzling of the three. He remains the only player to hold the No 1 ranking without ever having won a major. Clearly, he has enough talent to win with less than his best. Only now, he can't seem to win under any circumstances.

The same player who won four times before the '99 Masters let three chances get away on the West Coast this year. Putting cost him in Hawaii and in the Bob Hope Classic, and his 5-iron into Rae's Creek cost him a chance to wear a green jacket.

His focus on the Masters came at the expense of other victories.

"I probably wasn't as focused on those as much as I should have been," Duval said during the Masters. "Not to say I've neglected other events, but I've had an eye to the future. That's a balance I'll have to work on."

Duval, Love and Els are not the only ones in a drought.

Justin Leonard has two big wins on his resume, the 1997 British Open and The Players Championship a year later. The latter was his last victory, a dubious winless streak at 55 and counting.

Nick Price and Lee Janzen, with five majors between him, also have to look back to 1998 to find their last first-place check.

No one said winning was easy, especially on the PGA Tour. In no other sport is a 25 percent success rate considered a banner year.

Maybe that's the problem.

Perhaps Woods has made winning look so routine - 10 of his last 18 tour events - that expectation levels are rising around him.

"It just seems like when he plays, he wins," Els said. "It kind of makes people think it's easy to win out here on tour. I guess when you're on such a high, with so much talent like Tiger has, that winning becomes a habit."

Not winning has become a habit that Duval, Els and Love need to break.

The sooner the better.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence