Ranking the top players without a major

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- One year ago, Chris DiMarco left his chip short on the final hole at The Masters, showed his buddy Phil Mickelson the line and watched as Lefty shed the label of Best Player To Never Win A Major.

This time around, DiMarco went one better, tying Tiger Woods on the final hole with a clutch par putt of his own before losing in a playoff.

That's the good news. The bad news is that DiMarco's coming dangerously close to inheriting the label that was once a conspicuous suffix attached to Mickelson's name.

This week's version of the Weekly 18 looks at the current best players to have never won a major.

1. Adam Scott
OK, before the angry letters start pouring in, this isn't the woulda, shoulda, coulda award, so no one's faulting the young Aussie for not having won a major yet. That said, at 24, he's the best guy around without a major to his credit, although he did claim the title at the "fifth major," The Players Championship, a year ago. The best thing about Scott's major chances is that his game sets up for any course, so he could win any of 'em. Expect a title to his credit within the next two years.

2. Sergio Garcia
When Sergio was battling Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, a 19-year-old kid running down the fairway in hopes of a dream, he looked like the future of golf. Six years later, he still is. Now 25, Garcia is ready to start winning majors. After all, we already know how he deals with pressure situations as evidenced by his stellar Ryder Cup record.

3. Chris DiMarco
Had he not shot a Sunday morning 41, had he made some putts on the front side of his final round, had his 72nd-hole chip found the bottom of the cup instead of darting off the lip, DiMarco may have been excused from this list. You can't come any closer to winning a major than DiMarco has in his past two attempts and not have hardware on your mantel or a new jacket hanging in the closet. From the looks of it, he's going to win one soon. But for now, he's mired on this list.

4. Padraig Harrington
His 27 total runner-up finishes aside, Harrington has game that's major-ready. He owns career bests of T-5 at The Masters, T-5 at the U.S. Open, T-5 at the British (twice) and T-17 at the PGA. Perhaps his recent win at the Honda Classic, his first on U.S. soil, was the breakthrough he needed.

5. Ryan Moore
If you ask Jack Nicklaus, Moore's already won a major, with his victory in last year's U.S. Amateur. Still a college senior at UNLV, Moore showed off his game at The Masters, reaching as high as fourth place on the weekend before falling to a share of 13th. This kid's the next great American golfer. Your head might say he won't win a major in the next few years, but in your heart, you want to see it happen. Go with your heart.

6. Colin Montgomerie
Not sure if anyone's ever written this before, but did you know ol' Monty's never won a major? That little fact must have just slipped through the cracks of most reporters' notebooks somehow. But there's still time for the Scot to pull one out. He's experienced, he's crafty and, most of all, he still cares. Is there any other reason he would have been in Indonesia two weeks ago, shooting a final-round 60 in a last-ditch effort to qualify for The Masters? Monty's still got some good golf left in him. A win at St. Andrews this year would give Mickelson's Masters triumph a run for its money on the magic and mystique scale.

7. Tim Clark
Perhaps the most anonymous man on this list, Clark is the quintessential fairways-and-greens player, which is an obvious need in major events. Expect him to contend at a U.S. Open or PGA, where keeping it in the short grass is at a premium.

8. Stewart Cink
He could have had a major title already – or at least a good shot at one – had he not blown a short putt on the final hole of the 2001 U.S. Open. Thinking Retief Goosen would at least two-putt for the win, Cink rushed his 20-incher and missed. Had he made it, he would have joined Goosen and Mark Brooks in a Monday playoff

9. Luke Donald
Of all the young Englishmen in the game, Donald was perhaps the least publicized; Justin Rose was a celebrated amateur, Paul Casey could bomb it off the tee and Ian Poulter wore funny clothes. Now Donald is finally getting his due. He led The Players Championship through three rounds before falling one shot short and also hovered around the leaderboard for much of The Masters, joining DiMarco as the only players with three rounds in the 60s. He just plods along, making plenty of pars and hardly any mistakes, which always means good things in majors.

10. Darren Clarke
We'd like to see this, if only for the after-party. Known for smoking stogies on the course, Clarke has never puffed a victory cigar at a major, but he's come close, especially at the British, where he owns five top-12 finishes in the last eight years. Now that he's competing regularly on the PGA Tour, he'll be able to challenge himself against the world's best more often.

11. Chad Campbell
Hailed as the next great player by Sports Illustrated two years ago, Campbell has lived up to the hype … kind of. He owns two victories on tour but has struggled at times in big events; last year, he was one of only five players to miss the cut in each of the first three majors. His best bet still looks like the PGA, where he's finished T-24 and second the last two years.

12. Kenny Perry
This guy still continues to amaze us. Perry entered the 2003 season with four career wins, but only one since '95, and then reeled off three wins that year to climb into the top 10 in the world. He won again at Bay Hill last month against a stellar field that included Vijay Singh, his playing partner in the final round.

13. Paul Casey
The man who made some comments that were perceived to be anti-American just needs a few physical and mental adjustments before he's back on track. Casey's had a bad back and rabbit ears while playing mostly in the U.S. this year, but the talent is there as evidenced by his T-6 finish at The Masters in '04.

14. Jay Haas
It may sound inconceivable, but the 51-year-old has played some of the best golf of his life in the past year. If he plays all five senior tour majors, he's a virtual lock to capture a few wins. But he's looking for something more. At the Golf Writers Association of America dinner prior to The Masters, where Haas was honored with the Jim Murray/ASAP Award for his relationship with the media, he expressed his desire to win a green jacket. His time is fleeting, but he's still got a chance.

15. Trevor Immelman
Any guy that throws a 65 on the board in the third round at Augusta National, as Immelman did this week, has to be considered dangerous. The young South African could follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman Goosen, who toiled for a while before turning into a top player.

16. Stuart Appleby
For a guy ranked 13th in the world, this may seem too low a ranking, but he hasn't done much to dispel the notion that he's been a disappointing big-event player in recent years. Sure, he reached the four-man playoff at the British in '02, but he has only two other top-10 finishes in 33 career majors.

17. Mark Hensby
We've got to admit, prior to this week Hensby wasn't sniffing this list. But shooting a 69 in your first competitive round at Augusta National will get you here in a hurry. His only previous start in a major resulted in a T-68 finish at last year's PGA, but with a T-5 at The Masters, this could be a guy worth keeping your eye on.

18. Pat Perez
No, we're not joking. Even though Perez has yet to win on the PGA Tour, he's got all the physical skills. He's just got a wee bit of a temper problem. Not your ordinary club-throwing, swearing kind of thing, either; he's actually been known to make lewd gestures toward his ball when it doesn't fall in the hole. If he can ever harness the emotional side of the game -- and that's a big if -- he could be a major player.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com