Seven golfers who had record-breaking weeks but failed to win

A list of hard-luck stories when players re-wrote the record books and yet didn’t walk off with the first prize.

Sometimes in golf it just isn't meant to be.

However brilliant you are, someone else is somehow even better.

We look at examples from history where golfers have shot the lights out, entered the record books but have finished the week without a trophy to show for it.

Jon Rahm - 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions

Imagine if you'd backed the Spaniard to win the PGA Tour's first event of the calendar year, not followed the scoring and then checked back in on Monday morning to find out he'd shot 33-under.

What's the initial thought: that he won by seven or eight shots? It's a fair one given that the average winning score at The Plantation Course over the last five years is just 22-under and the tournament record was 31-under.

But, no, despite 33-under beating the previous lowest 72-hole record on the PGA Tour by two, Rahm's 33-under was bettered by Cameron Smith, who fired 34-under!

Rahm's tally of 32 birdies also equalled the PGA Tour record for most birdies in an event.

Matt Jones - 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions

There was a second player in the Sentry who beat the PGA's previous scoring record and still didn't win. In fact, he didn't even manage second place.

As well as carding 32-under for the week - two behind Smith - Aussie Matt Jones recorded the lowest 36-hole score to par (23-under) in consecutive rounds in PGA Tour history.

Again, it's hard to fathom. Imagine entering the weekend at 9-under, shooting 23-under over Saturday and Sunday and still not emerging with the silverware.

"It just goes to show the depth of the PGA Tour and how good the players are," said Jones later.

Brooks Koepka - 2019 US Open

Koepka arrived at Pebble Beach in 2019 as the modern-day king of the US Open having won the two previous editions at Erin Hills (2017) and Shinnecock (2018). In the former he matched the lowest score to par (-16) in the tournament's long and illustrious history.

At Pebble he broke another record but this time an unwanted one: Koepka became the first player in US Open history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s and not win.

The American's tally of 10-under (69-69-68-68) was three better than everyone else bar one player: Gary Woodland, who triumphed with 13-under.

"I played great. Nothing I could do. I gave it my all," said Koepka. "Sometimes, like this week, it's not meant to be."

Phil Mickelson - 2016 Open Championship

The left-hander had memorably won the Claret Jug three years earlier at Muirfield and at Royal Troon in 2016 he arguably played even better golf.

Mickelson's final score of 17-under smashed the previous 72-hole record in an Open at Troon, beating Mark Calcavecchia's winning total of 13-under in 1989 by four.

Indeed, it would have been enough to have won 140 of the previous 144 Open Championships.

But Mickelson ran into an even more inspired Henrik Stenson, who carded a brilliant closing 63 to win with 20-under. The leaderboard showed how dominant the pair were as Mickelson was 11 shots clear of JB Holmes in third.

Jordan Spieth - 2021 Open Championship

The Open had been played at Royal St George's since 1894 and no player had ever shot lower over 72 holes than Greg Norman, who won with 13-under in 1993.

Spieth, the Claret Jug winner at Royal Birkdale in 2017, equalled Royal St George's record tally in 2021 thanks to rounds of 65-67-69-66.

But once more it wasn't good enough. Instead, victory went to fellow American Collin Morikawa, who posted 15-under for the win.

"I did all I could," Spieth reflected. "So, I'm upset because I really felt like I played well enough to win."

Paul Gow - 2001 B.C. Open

Somewhat less well known compared to some of those Major losses is Gow's hard-luck story in the 2001 B.C. Open.

Gow went birdie crazy in New York that week, pouring in a record 32 birdies (a tally later matched by Mark Calcavecchia in the 2001 Phoenix Open and Rahm at the Sentry TOC).

But Gow didn't win. The Australian ended with 22-under and lost a play-off to Jeff Sluman

Gow won three times on the Nationwide Tour but, despite his record-breaking week in 2001, a PGA Tour victory eluded him.

Steve Stricker - 2009 Bob Hope Classic

Until the record books were re-written at the Sentry, Ernie Els held the lowest 72-hole score in a PGA Tour event with 31-under, set in 2003.

Steve Stricker appeared to have beaten that mark in the 2009 Bob Hope Classic when he played 72 holes in 33-under after shooting 61-62 in rounds three and four.

The problem for Stricker was that the desert event in those days was contested over five rounds.

In Sunday's closing 18, he limped home in 77 and had to settle for third spot.

READ MORE: Record-breaking Cameron Smith edges out World No.1 Jon Rahm to win Sentry Tournament of Champions

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