Before we start focusing on the week’s upcoming tournaments, with the Solheim Cup for the ladies and the JELD-WEN Tradition for the champions tour taking center stage, let’s take a quick look back at the 2009 major championships for the PGA.
It was a year for the underdog at the major championships, and each tournament had something very intriguing that made it unique.
Now keep in mind, I am ranking these tournaments as a whole tournament. Not just the final round, or the last two days. The tournament as a complete entity. Everyone ranks their enjoyment of a tournament in certain ways, and this is my way.
Also, this is my personal opinion. There’s no science to these rankings. This is based on my enjoyment of these tournaments. There is no right or wrong answer.
With that in mind, here’s my ranking for this year’s majors, from the worst to the best:
4. The U.S. Open (Bethpage Black)
This was one of those majors you tend to forget about. I give Lucas Glover all the credit in the world for picking up the victory, as he has proved lately that he is on the verge of breaking out as one of the better players in the game.
But the weather was brutal the entire week, and the players had some really harsh conditions they had to face from day one. Tiger Woods was all over the place, and certainly didn’t have his best week, though he still finished in sixth at even par for the tournament.
One intriguing storyline was Phil Mickelson‘s run towards the top of the leaderboard. Glover shot three over par for the final round, and Mickelson shot even par, which could be a good score considering the other scores throughout the day. Mickelson finished tied for second, but it would have definitely been much more memorable had he won the championship, given the situation he was in at the time after learning of his wife Amy being diagnosed with breast cancer.
David Duval was another good story, finishing tied with Mickelson in second. But this tournament just didn’t have the same type of buzz as the others have this season.
3. The Masters
Unfortunately for Angel Cabrera, the 2009 Masters will be remembered more for Kenny Perry‘s collapse down the stretch than it will be for Cabrera winning the championship.
It was the tournament that was setting up perfectly for Perry to capture his first-ever major, but his struggles in the final few holes allowed Cabrera and Chad Campbell to force a playoff, with Cabrera being the eventual champion.
However, there was something even more interesting going on behind the leaders. And that was the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing, and the absolute battle that the two had throughout the day. Woods and Mickelson lived up to all the hype over their pairing, as Mickelson shot a 5-under for the day, while Woods shot 4-under.
All in all, the Masters had Tiger vs. Phil on a Sunday, and a fan-favorite coming oh so close to picking up the win of a lifetime. But unfortunately, even had Perry won, this tournament would still have to contend with the top two on our list, which would have been no easy task given the outcomes of the final two.
2. The PGA Championship (Hazeltine)
I really had to think about this one. We finished the year with two unbelievable golf tournaments. One had a legend of the game nearly pulling off one of the greatest upsets in golf history, and one with the 110th-ranked player in the world knocking off the greatest golfer ever.
Y.E. Yang‘s victory over Tiger this past weekend was nothing short of amazing. Tiger’s streak of winning after leading after the third round was broken. Yang did all the things right, while Tiger didn’t make putts. It was as simple as that.
And in the process, Yang became the first Asian-born player to win a major championship, which will have a lasting impact without a doubt. There were maybe only a handful of people who thought Yang even had a chance on Sunday, and he proved them all wrong by mentally doing what no else could.
As a whole, this tournament was exciting. It really was. But Tiger led for the first three days, and for most of the final round. We were all completely certain that he could not lose the tournament.
But he did. It was shocking to say the least. So while the finish of this tournament will be more memorable in the long run, the entire tournament as a whole will not be as memorable as number one on my list.
1. The British Open (Turnberry)
This was the best tournament of the year, in my honest opinion. Major or non-major. And that is no disrespect to Yang’s performance, because it was incredible. But from start to finish, this was the most compelling tournament since last year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Tom Watson nearly pulled off a win for the ages, and had he won, it would have been one of the greatest wins in golf history, given the circumstances. A 59-year-old winning a major championship? It would have been simply spectacular.
And though in the end, Stewart Cink defeated Watson in a playoff, it will still go down as one of the most memorable and suspenseful tournaments in my opinion. We were all just waiting for Watson to make that one mistake that would take him out of contention. And well, it came a whole lot later than I would have ever thought it would.
Some people said it was bad for golf, I say it was excellent for golf. In a time where Tiger is the favorite in every tournament he plays in, it was good to see the unexpected by a guy who ruled this game back in the day.
So while Tiger missed the cut, which was a story in and of itself, I will always remember the way Watson captured our hearts for four days, and led us down a road that we may never see again. Ratings may not have been the greatest, but that’s irrelevant at this point.
A win would have made this even better, but this is still the best major I saw in 2009.
What was your favorite major this year? Please chime in and let me hear your rankings!