Ranking of the year in majors | Golf News and Tour Information
Admittedly, this is a decidedly strange utility, but this has been a decidedly strange year in golf. And so on: our inaugural Fire Pit Collective ranking of the four men’s Grand Slam tournaments. The year in the majors, at the FPC.
First place: Open Championship at the Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland, July 14-17, won by Australian Cameron Smith.
Second place: US Open at Country Club, Brookline, Mass., June 16-19, won by Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.
Third place: PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Tulsa, Okla., May 19-22, won by Justin Thomas of Jupiter, Fla.
Fourth place: the Masters at Augusta National, Augusta, Georgia, April 7-10, won by Dallas’ Scottie Scheffler.
The Masters shouldn’t feel slighted here, if a tournament can be said to have feelings, and that’s by no means a condemnation of its young winner, Mr. Scheffler. His Sunday night admission that he cried like a baby in his wife’s arms on Masters Sunday morning, not knowing if he was ready for the task at hand, is the most candid and moving thing. a golfer has said at a press conference all year. He was a tremendous winner, and the Masters is the Masters, our first sign of spring. But this is the fourth here.
Over the years, the super-elite nature of the host club has added mystique to the tournament. This year, he did the opposite. The tide is changing in golf (and beyond golf). People are tired of what extreme wealth and power can buy and do. LIV Golf, which burst into the traditions of the game with its open checkbook, has a lot to do with it.
And maybe LIV Golf can be a good thing for professional golf, in the long run. Perhaps this will inspire the Leviathan PGA Tour to reinvent itself creatively and better. The first signs are not encouraging, but it is early.
The irony, of course, is that nothing whispers to Establishment Golf more than the Masters and Augusta National. But you could also say that LIV and Augusta National are opposite sides of the same coin. Augusta National can and does buy everything except weather and ratings. He gets what he wants. Because everyone outside the doors wants to be inside. It’s a bit much.
All of this has helped the oldest golf tournament in the world, The Open Championship, in our 2022 rankings. The Open is still played on courses that the public has access to, but this year, of course, it was played on a muni, the Old Course at St. Andrews, as is the case once or twice a decade. This is your acute relief.
Every year, tens of thousands of golfers plan and save to secure a tee time on the Old Course. It’s especially in the air whenever there’s an Open at St. Andrews. The tournament is open, the course is open. Open is one of the great words in the English language. This year on Open House Sunday, we all got to see a young man (28) holding the old jug (150). Cam Smith stood out for all to see as the embodiment of the pure spirit of “I’m just a golfer”.
Maybe you supported Rory McIlroy. Seems like almost everyone was, and that’s understandable. But you could also say that Cam Smith was the perfect winner.
Smith is what our Australian FPC colleague Geoff Ogilvy calls, with his usual bonhomie, a “bogan”. Working class. Without pretention. Usual. Modest. Smith is apparently (we hope) not all about the money. In a year, if he plays LIV Golf, I will be surprised. Cam’s blowing mullet and fast-paced style of play might not say it all, but it says a lot. As Ogilvy uses the bogan, and as I’m borrowing it here, it’s a compliment. Cam Smith is good at golf, and he makes no pretense beyond that.
A few more things about the Old Course, because an Open on the Old Course will always have an extra aspect in this ranking. It is an eccentric fascination and has held up well to various golf fads over the years. That is to say centuries. It’s not gorgeous, not in the conventional way, but it’s beautiful. It all adds up to the equation. I have made many trips to St. Andrews over the years, and each time you notice something new. Before this year, I had never focused on the spectacular nature of the evening light on the gray old town. OMG, ROYGBIV. Paris, go your way. St. Andrews, Scotland—the city of lights.
OK, so there’s 1 (the Open) and 4 (the Masters), leaving 2 and 3. So why does the US Open at the Country Club won by Matt Fitzpatrick have the nod to the PGA Championship in Southern Hills won by Justin Thomas? Both were exceptional. Southern Hills has always been good, but from what I’ve seen of it over the past 25 or so years, it’s never been better.
But the Country Club, it’s hard to do better. With the possible exception of Merion, you never associate US Open courses and US Open clubs with charm. But charm is an important golfing value. Southern Hills is many things, but it’s not charming. Fitzpatrick hit 18 greens on his final round as he played in the final pair, with playing partner/opponent Will Zalatoris breathing down his neck and Scheffler messing up for a playoff. A good golf tournament is memorable, for the course, for the winner, for the way the winner won – in this case Fitzpatrick hit perhaps the shot of the year on the 72nd hole, a commanding approach from a fairway bunker to secure par victory. The US Open at the Country Club, by a nose.
Of the four golfers who have won major tournaments this year, for my money? Thomas is the best of them. He was, he is and he will be.
It’s not an easy business. In summary :
The Open, the US Open, the PGA, the Masters. You can close your eyes and see them all, can’t you? It was a good year for the majors.
Michael Bamberger welcomes your feedback at [email protected]