Golf people love to tag some star-crossed pro as "the best player never to have won a major." (For the record, it's still Phil Mickelson after his second-place finish in the PGA [page 40].) However, who deserves that label if you consider more than current players? And what about in other sports?
Lighthorse Harry Cooper won 31 PGA Tour events during the 1920s and '30s but never a major. Among his near misses: a semifinal loss to Walter Hagen in the '25 PGA Championship and a playoff loss to Tommy Armour in the '27 U.S. Open.
Andrea Jaeger won nine WTA tournaments, from 1980 to '87, and was ranked as high as No. 2, but she never broke through to win a Grand Slam event. She reached two finals—at the French in '82 and Wimbledon in '83—but lost both to Martina Navratilova.
Michael Andretti has more career starts (284), wins (41) and poles (32) than any other Indy car driver never to win the Indianapolis 500. His best finish in 12 tries was second, behind Rick Mears in 1991.
The only thoroughbred to finish second in all three Triple Crown races? Alydar, who yielded to Affirmed in the 1978 Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
Although Ken Norton briefly held the WBC heavyweight championship in 1978, he got the belt only after Leon Spinks had been stripped of it. Norton then lost his first defense, to Larry Holmes. Despite a 42-7-1 (33 KOs) lifetime record, Norton never won any other major titles.