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Chasing history: Which major champions could repeat?

One-and-done is a popular phrase in college basketball for players who stay in school for only one year and then turn pro. One-and-done also applies to major-championship golf.

The list of great golfers who scored that first major but never got to No. 2 includes modern stars such as Fred Couples, David Duval, Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Jim Furyk and Geoff Ogilvy.

You can’t chase history, or Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods, unless you get that second major title. Rory McIlroy has won four. Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson are the only other members of the under-40 set who have won two. The other active major winners qualify as one-hit wonders, not that there’s anything wrong with that. You’ve got to start somewhere. You may have noticed that the past five major championships were captured by first-time major winners. Here’s my list of players who should escape one-and-done status, in order of likelihood: 

Dustin Johnson, 32. Golf’s No. 1 stud hoss was dominant in the U.S. Open at Oakmont and dominant in completing his sweep of the World Golf Championships at the Dell Match Play. He might make massive Erin Hills look puny in June. If that eagle putt had fallen in the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, he would be going for an Open three-peat. Major outlook: Unstoppable.

Jason Day, 29. When we spent 2015 comparing Day with McIlroy and Spieth, his best was unreal and his 20-under performance at Whistling Straits was flat-out scary. Without a vertigo attack, Day might have snagged Chambers Bay, and without Jimmy Walker going bonkers at Baltusrol, he might have won last year’s PGA Championship. Day took some time off recently to support his mother’s cancer battle, but when he comes back, expect him to come back strong. Outlook: Absolutely.

Henrik Stenson, 40. The Swede shot 20 under par and posted 63 in a major, so he’s not the type who figures to win only one major. Stenson did both, by the way, using mainly a 3-wood off the tee at last year’s British Open. So, he turns 41 on April 5? Big deal. He’s just hitting his stride. Outlook: Very likely.

Justin Rose, 36. The rise of golf’s young guns made some observers overlook Rose, at least until he landed the Summer Olympics gold medal. He’s got a U.S. Open title in tow, and he’s a good iron player who has posted low early rounds at the Masters. You might want to draft him for your fantasy lineup, but please, there is no gambling at Bushwood. Outlook: Probably.

Jimmy Walker, 38. What took him so long? It doesn’t matter now. The amateur astro-photographer’s 266 score at Baltusrol was the second-lowest PGA Championship-winning total. When he’s driving it straight and putting as well as he did at Baltusrol, he’s got the game for any course. Outlook: Probably.

Danny Willett, 29. Few Americans knew of Willett, much less expected him to win a Masters. So, Spieth handed him the title with an Amen Corner disaster? What’s relevant is that Willett played superbly to put himself in that position. He seldom strays far from the fairway, a skill that travels well. Outlook: Possibly.

Adam Scott, 36. He got off to a hot start despite the anchored-putting ban last year, then vanished. It’s been four years since his Masters victory, he hasn’t finished better than 18th in the past five majors and his family is expecting a second child. Still, his swing is textbook stuff. Outlook: Possibly.

Louis Oosthuizen, 34. His British Open victory came seven years ago, but he did have runner-up finishes in both 2015 Opens and lost a Masters playoff when Watson pulled off that crazy shot out of the pines. His swing is still one of the game’s sweetest. Outlook: Possibly.

Charl Schwartzel, 32. The 2011 Masters champion hasn’t finished better than 18th in the past six majors, but wins last year at the Valspar Championship and on the European Tour show he’s still got game. Outlook: Possibly.

The others (Keegan Bradley, Ben Curtis, Lucas Glover, Trevor Immelman, Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson). Outlook: Questionable.

Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal. Email:; Twitter: @GaryVanSickle