PGA Championship 2015: The weakest of the four Majors?August, 2015
James Savage looks at whether or not the US PGA should be held in as high regard at the other three
It’s quite easy to feel a little bit underwhelmed by the time the US PGA comes around as it seems to arrive very quickly after The Open.
By the very fact that it takes place last, gives it the feel of the “fourth” or “last” major.
It it was first on the calendar and we’d been waiting eight months for it, like with The Masters, we’d probably get a bit more excited.
It only became a strokeplay event in 1958 but still has the names of Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead etched on the famously massive Rodman Wanamaker trophy.
Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ray Floyd and Lee Trevino helped take the tournament into the modern era where Tiger Woods won four times between 1999 and 2007.
The only names really missing are Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.
There have been a few relatively unknown winners of the event in recent times – Mark Brooks and Shaun Micheel to name a couple – which doesn’t help the event stay in the memory as vividly as some.
Interestingly, the US PGA has the biggest prize purse of the four majors and arguably has the strongest field" But that can be said for any of the other three. Who won the 2003 Open Championship? Who won the 2008 Masters? Who won the 2009 US Open?
Well done to those who said Ben Curtis, Trevor Immelman and Lucas Glover, but you get my point.
Interestingly, the US PGA has the biggest prize purse of the four majors and arguably has the strongest field, back to front.
And what I like about the US PGA is it doesn’t have the same build-up as the other three so there’s no anti-climax when if it doesn’t produce a classic.
The US PGA last year was hands-down the most exciting of the four majors for me.
I think at one point there were five players tied for the lead in the final round. McIlroy had a shaky start but really dug in and slammed the door in the face of Mickelson, Fowler and Stenson to win.
One of my most vivid US PGA memories was actually YE Yang’s victory over Tiger Woods in 2009. Tiger had never lost a 54-hole lead in a Major and no one expected that to change down the stretch at Hazeltine National.
Yang chipped in for eagle on 14 which gave him the lead and rattled Tiger. On 18 Yang then fired it around a tree from 200+ yards to set up a closing birdie and a three-shot win.
The golfing world was shocked. It was the first Major victory by an Asian-born player and effectively ended the Woods era of dominance.
No one will ever know what possessed Yang to celebrate by bench-pressing his golf bag above his head.
So does the US PGA have the same prestige as the other three? Perhaps not quite. Does that make it any less exciting or enjoyable to watch? Absolutely not.
A Major is a Major. I’m sure Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia would hold it in as high regard as the other three if they managed to win it.