7 Legendary Golfers Who Have Surprisingly Never Won the Masters

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Golfer Rory McIlroy and his caddie Harry Diamond react during the second round of the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club

The Masters is rightly considered the pinnacle of the PGA Tour. It can be the crowning achievement in a golfer’s career or the setting for a heartbreaking collapse. Many great players have competed at Augusta National and never went home with the precious green jacket.

Here are seven of the best players to never win the Masters in no particular order: 

1. Ernie Els never won the Masters

Ernie Els was one of the best golfers of his generation, with his four major victories coming at the U.S. Open and the Open Championship (two titles each). Els often performed well at the Masters, finishing in the top 10 six times and the top five three times. However, he was never able to get over the top in this tournament.

The South African athlete was one of many golfers who were unlucky enough to exist at the same time as peak Tiger Woods. From 2000-04, Els never finished worse than sixth and became the runner-up twice during that time. After Phil Mickelson birdied the final hole in ’04 to beat him by one shot, Els never threatened to win the Masters again.  

2. Lee Trevino

Lee Trevino had a great career. He has two victories at the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and the Open Championship. But his Masters legacy is basically non-existent.

In 20 appearances at Augusta, Trevino only managed two top-10 finishes. His problems with the Masters were more psychological than tactical. The Garland, Texas native declined to play in the tournament three times (1970, 1971, and 1974). He later described this decision as “the greatest mistake I’ve made in my career.”

According to Golf Monthly, part of Trevino’s unease with the course was due to a fraught relationship with then-chairman Clifford Roberts. “We locked horns the first time we met,” Trevino explained. “I took a disliking to the man, and he took a disliking to me.”

3. Greg Norman

Greg Norman is a two-time Open Championship winner. He spent 331 weeks as the world’s No. 1 golfer, but most memories of his Masters appearances are tinged with sporting tragedy. The Australian golfer recorded nine top-10 finishes, eight top-fives, and an agonizing three second-place finishes.

In 1986, Norman lost his chance to win after a poorly hit approach shot on the 18th hole. The next year, he lost to Larry Mize in a three-way playoff. In 1996, Norman choked away a six-shot lead on Sunday to lose to Nick Faldo. 

4. Rory McIlroy

Golfer Rory McIlroy and his caddie Harry Diamond react during the second round of the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club
Rory McIlroy and caddie Harry Diamond during the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club | Andrew Redington/Getty Images

It can be hard to remember, but there was once a time when Rory McIlroy looked set to be Tiger’s successor as the face of golf. The 2015 Masters were positioned as the final step in McIlroy’s attempt to complete the “Rory Slam” after winning the three other majors once by the age of 26. However, victory at Augusta still eludes the Northern Irish golfer.

McIlroy’s finished in the top 10 seven times overall and four times in the top five. The closest he’s come was in 2011, when he had a four-shot lead going into the final round before putting up an 80 on Sunday to cede his advantage entirely. 

McIlroy’s career has been much less impressive in recent years. However, the 33-year-old’s runner-up finish in 2022 suggests he still has the talent to earn the green jacket one day. 

5. Tom Weiskopf never won the Masters

The late Tom Weiskopf only has one major championship to his name (1973 Open Championship), but he was just a few shots away from being one of the most decorated Masters players ever. The Ohio native finished in the top 10 seven times, including four runners-up performances, losing out to George Archer (1969), Jack Nicklaus (1972, 1975), and Gary Player (1974).

6. Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller was one of the few golfers who could reasonably compete with Nicklaus in the ’70s, winning the U.S. Open (1973) and Open Championship (1976) during the decade. He has four top-10 finishes to his name but never came out on top at the Masters.

The closest Miller came was in 1971, when he led with four holes to play. However, the now-75-year-old lost the lead after two bogeys at 16 and 18. 

7. Justin Rose

Justin Rose only has one major victory to his name (2013 U.S. Open). But the English golfer has flirted with glory at Augusta National more than anywhere else.

Rose has finished in the top 10 at the Masters six times (three top fives), the most of any major he’s started in. He came in second at the 2015 tournament and conceded a three-shot lead on the back nine in 2017 in the lead-up to his sudden-death battle with the victorious Sergio Garcia.