Professional golf; it’s the majors time of the year
By Steve Wade
Since the rescheduling of the golfing calendar last year, this month ushers in a phenomenal period for both players and fans alike. All four major championships take place between April and July with some other top quality tournaments interspersed throughout the period. Starting on the 12th of this month when the Players Championship, the “fifth major”, tees off at its usual venue of Sawgrass in Florida, the next few month’s usher in one multi-million dollar tournament after the other, with the highlights being the four major championships.
We start, as always, with the Masters at Augusta National. One of, if not the highlight of the golfing year, the Masters is the only major to be played on the same course every year. The tournament started in 1934 when the winner, Horton Smith, picked up a cheque for 1500 dollars and the first prize didn’t improve until 1946, when it went to 2500! This year’s prize fund is 11.5 million with the winner picking up over 2 million. The event runs from the 9th until the 12th of April.
The next major in the schedule is the PGA Championship, being played at Harding Park just outside San Francisco from the 14th until the 17th of May. Known for being played on exceptionally tough courses and throwing up surprise victors, in the last few years the winner has come from higher in the rankings, with both Brooks Keopka and Rory McIlroy being dual winners.
Speaking of those two, they are the first names on any list of likely winners for any of the major events, but they approach them in very different ways. Keopka bases his whole season around the majors and has won four and finished second in two others over the last three seasons to prove it. McIlroy, a four-time major winner himself but not in the last five years, is at the time of writing the world number one with two wins and three top five finishes in his last five starts. Keopka seems to use the whole season as a practice session for the four big events, whilst McIlroy is never far from the top of the leaderboard in virtually every event he tees it up in. With other great golfers including Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm vying for the titles, not to mention a host of others, the competition will be fierce.
The US open is being played from the 18th until the 21st of June at Winged Foot, a long established venue on the open circuit. As tough as they come, it’s sure to be set up so that any mistakes will be severely punished.
Last but by no means least is The Open. Being played at the Royal St George’s links course in Kent from the 16th until the 19th of July, it’s been on the Open Championship roster since 1894. Won last year by Irishman Sean Lowry at Royal Portrush, the course can be a severe test if the wind blows, which it almost always does!
We’re sure to see some great golf being played by the world’s best players over the coming months. I’m sure that the many fans the game has in Pattaya will enjoy them. I know I will.