The men's major golf championships, commonly known as the major championships,and often referred to simply as the majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf. In order of play date as of 2019, they are:
Alongside the biennial Ryder Cup team competition, the majors are golf's most important events. Elite players from all over the world participate in them, and the reputations of the greatest players in golf history are largely based on the number and variety of major championship victories they accumulate. The top prizes are not actually the largest in golf, being surpassed by The Players Championship, three of the four World Golf Championships events (the HSBC Champions, promoted to WGC status in 2009, has a top prize comparable to that of the majors), and some other invitational events. However, winning a major boosts a player's career far more than winning any other tournament. If he is already a leading player, he will probably receive large bonuses from his sponsors and may be able to negotiate better contracts. If he is an unknown, he will immediately be signed up. Perhaps more importantly, he will receive an exemption from the need to annually re-qualify for a tour card on his home tour, thus giving a tournament golfer some security in an unstable profession. Currently, both the PGA Tour and European Tour give a five-year exemption to all major winners.
Independent organizations, and not the PGA Tour, operate each of the majors; The Players Championship is the tour's most important event.Three of the four majors take place in the United States. The Masters is played at the same course, Augusta National Golf Club, every year, while the other three rotate courses (the Open Championship, however, is always played on a links course). Each of the majors has a distinct history, and they are run by four separate golf organizations, but their special status is recognized worldwide. Major championship winners receive the maximum possible allocation of 100 points from the Official World Golf Ranking, which is endorsed by all of the main tours, and major championship prize money is official on the three richest regular (i.e. under-50) golf tours, the PGA Tour, European Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
The Players historically has offered a prize pool as large as or larger than the majors, because the PGA Tour wants its most important event to be as attractive. Although the majors are considered prestigious due to their history and traditions, besides The Players there are still other non-"major" tournaments which prominently feature top players competing for purses meeting or exceeding those of the four traditional majors, such as the European Tour's DP World Tour Championship, Dubai,and World Golf Championships. With its large prize fund of any golf event and role as PGA Tour's flagship tournament, The Players is frequently considered to be an unofficial "fifth major" by players and critics. After the announcement that the Evian Masters would be recognized as the fifth women's major by the LPGA Tour, players objected to the concept of having a fifth men's major, owing to the long-standing traditions that the existing four have established.
The majors originally consisted of two British tournaments, The Open Championship and The Amateur Championship, and two American tournaments, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur. With the introduction of the Masters Tournament in 1934, and the rise of professional golf in the late 1940s and 1950s, the term "major championships" eventually came to describe the Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. It is difficult to determine when the definition changed to include the current four tournaments, although many trace it to Arnold Palmer's 1960 season. After winning the Masters and the U.S. Open to start the season, he remarked that if he could win the Open Championship and PGA Championship to finish the season, he would complete "a grand slam of his own" to rival Bobby Jones's 1930 feat. Until that time, many U.S. players such as Byron Nelson also considered the Western Open and the North and South Open as two of golf's "majors,"and the British PGA Matchplay Championship was as important to British and Commonwealth professionals as the PGA Championship was to Americans.
During the 1950s, the short-lived World Championship of Golf was viewed as a "major" by its competitors, as its first prize was worth almost ten times any other event in the game, and it was the first event whose finale was televised live on U.S. television. The oldest of the majors is The Open Championship, commonly referred to as the "British Open" outside the United Kingdom. Dominated by American champions in the 1920s and 1930s, the comparative explosion in the riches available on the U.S. Tour from the 1940s onwards meant that the lengthy overseas trip needed to qualify and compete in the event became increasingly prohibitive for the leading American professionals. Their regular participation dwindled after the war years. Ben Hogan entered just once in 1953 and won, but never returned. Sam Snead won in 1946 but lost money on the trip (first prize was $600) and did not return until 1962.
Golf writer Dan Jenkins, who was often seen as the world authority on majors since he had attended more (200+) than anyone else, once noted that "the pros didn't talk much about majors back then. I think it was Herbert Warren Wind who starting using the term. He said golfers had to be judged by the major tournaments they won, but it's not like there was any set number of major tournaments."
In 1960, Arnold Palmer entered The Open Championship in an attempt to emulate Hogan's 1953 feat of winning on his first visit. Though a runner-up by a stroke in his first attempt, Palmer returned and won the next two in 1961 and 1962. Scheduling difficulties persisted with the PGA Championship, but more Americans began competing in the 1960s, restoring the event's prestige (and with it the prize money that once made it an attractive prospect to other American pros). The advent of transatlantic jet travel helped to boost American participation in The Open. A discussion between Palmer and Pittsburgh golf writer Bob Drum led to the concept of the modern Grand Slam of Golf.
In August 2017, after the previous year's edition was scheduled earlier due to golf at the 2016 Summer Olympics, the PGA of America announced that the PGA Championship would be moved to late-May beginning in 2019, in between the Masters and U.S. Open. The PGA Tour concurrently announced that it would move the Players Championship back to March the same year; as a result, the Players and the four majors will still be played across five consecutive months.
|Masters Tournament||Sky Sports|
|PGA Championship||Sky Sports|
|U.S. Open||Sky Sports|
|The Open Championship||Sky Sports|
In the United Kingdom, historically all four majors were broadcast on free to air TV. ITV has not broadcast live golf for many years. The BBC used to be the exclusive TV home of the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open and the Open Championship. By the early years of the first decade of the 21st century, only the Masters and Open Championship were broadcast live on the BBC. From 2011 onwards Sky Sports has exclusive live coverage of the first two days of the Masters, with the weekend rounds shared with the BBC. The U.S. Open is shown exclusively on Sky Sports. Beginning in 2016, Sky Sports also became the exclusive broadcaster of the Open Championship; the BBC elected to forego the final year of its contract.The BBC continues to hold rights to broadcast a nightly highlights programme.
Sky also held rights to the PGA Championship, but in July 2017, it was reported that the PGA of America had declined to renew its contract, seeking a different media model for the tournament in the United Kingdom.The 2017 tournament was aired by the BBC (via BBC Red Button, with the conclusion of coverage on BBC Two) and streamed by GiveMeSport (via Facebook Live). Eleven Sports UK & Ireland acquired the event for 2018, as one of the first events covered by the newly launched streaming service.
|U.S. Open||Golf Channel/NBC|
|The Open Championship||Golf Channel/NBC|
As none of the majors fall under the direct jurisdiction of tours, broadcast rights for these events are negotiated separately with each sanctioning body. However, as of 2020, network television coverage of all four tournaments is split equally between the PGA Tour's two main television partners, CBS and NBC.
The Masters operates under one-year contracts; CBS has been the main TV partner every year since 1956, with ESPN broadcasting CBS-produced coverage of the first and second rounds since 2008 (replacing USA Network, which had shown the event since the early 1980s).
Beginning in 1966, ABC obtained the broadcast rights for the other three majors and held them for a quarter century. The PGA Championship moved to CBS in 1991 and the U.S. Open returned to NBC in 1995.ABC retained The Open Championship as its sole major, but moved its live coverage on the weekend to sister cable network ESPN in 2010. In June 2015, it was announced that NBC and Golf Channel would acquire rights to the Open Championship under a 12-year deal. While the NBC deal was originally to take effect in 2017, ESPN chose to opt out of its final year of Open rights, so the NBC contract took effect beginning in 2016 instead.
As of 2020, NBC and Golf Channel hold broadcast rights to the U.S. Open and other USGA events, replacing Fox Sports — which had assumed the rights in 2015 under a 12-year contract, but withdrew and sold the remainder of the rights to NBC in June 2020.
As of 2020, CBS and ESPN hold the broadcast rights to the PGA Championship, under a new contract that replaces TNT as the tournament's cable partner.
Because each major was developed and is run by a different organization, each has characteristics that sets it apart. These involve the character of the courses used, the composition of the field, and other idiosyncrasies.
The table below shows the number of major championships won by golfers from various countries. Tallies are also shown for major wins by golfers from Europe and from the "Rest of the World" (RoW), i.e. the world excluding Europe and the United States. The United States plays Europe in the Ryder Cup and an International Team representing the Rest of the World in the Presidents Cup. The table is complete through the 2019 Open. Since the establishment of The Masters in 1934, an American has won at least one major every year, with the exception of 1994.
The aggregate scoring records for each major are tabulated below, listed in order of when the majors are scheduled annually.
|Nov 15, 2020||Masters Tournament||Dustin Johnson||65-70-65-68||268||−20|
|Aug 12, 2018||PGA Championship||Brooks Koepka||69-63-66-66||264||−16|
|Jun 19, 2011||U.S. Open||Rory McIlroy||65-66-68-69||268||−16|
|Jul 17, 2016||The Open Championship||Henrik Stenson||68-65-68-63||264||−20|
The scoring records to par for each major are tabulated below, listed in order of when the majors are scheduled annually.
|Nov 15, 2020||Masters Tournament||Dustin Johnson||65-70-65-68||268||−20|
|Aug 16, 2015||PGA Championship||Jason Day||68-67-66-67||268||−20|
|Jun 19, 2011||U.S. Open||Rory McIlroy||65-66-68-69||268||−16|
|Jun 18, 2017||Brooks Koepka||67-70-68-67||272|
|Jul 17, 2016||The Open Championship||Henrik Stenson||68-65-68-63||264||−20|
The record for a single round in a major championship is 62 which was recorded by South African golfer Branden Grace in the third round of the 2017 Open Championship.
|Scotland||Tom Morris, Jr.||The Open Championship||4||1868, 1869, 1870, 1872 [a]|
|United States||Walter Hagen||PGA Championship||4||1924, 1925, 1926, 1927|
|Scotland||Jamie Anderson||The Open Championship||3||1877, 1878, 1879|
|Scotland||Bob Ferguson||The Open Championship||3||1880, 1881, 1882|
|Scotland||Willie Anderson||U.S. Open||3||1903, 1904, 1905|
|Australia||Peter Thomson||The Open Championship||3||1954, 1955, 1956|
|Scotland||Tom Morris, Sr.||The Open Championship||2||1861, 1862|
|Jersey||Harry Vardon||The Open Championship||2||1898, 1899|
|Scotland||James Braid||The Open Championship||2||1905, 1906|
|England||John Henry Taylor||The Open Championship||2||1894, 1895|
|United States||John McDermott||U.S. Open||2||1911, 1912|
|England||Jim Barnes||PGA Championship||2||1916, 1919 [a]|
|United States||Gene Sarazen||PGA Championship||2||1922, 1923|
|United States||Bobby Jones||The Open Championship||2||1926, 1927|
|United States||Walter Hagen||The Open Championship||2||1928, 1929|
|United States||Leo Diegel||PGA Championship||2||1928, 1929|
|United States||Bobby Jones||U.S. Open||2||1929, 1930|
|United States||Denny Shute||PGA Championship||2||1936, 1937|
|United States||Ralph Guldahl||U.S. Open||2||1937, 1938|
|South Africa||Bobby Locke||The Open Championship||2||1949, 1950|
|United States||Ben Hogan||U.S. Open||2||1950, 1951|
|United States||Arnold Palmer||The Open Championship||2||1961, 1962|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus||Masters Tournament||2||1965, 1966|
|United States||Lee Trevino||The Open Championship||2||1971, 1972|
|United States||Tom Watson||The Open Championship||2||1982, 1983|
|United States||Curtis Strange||U.S. Open||2||1988, 1989|
|England||Nick Faldo||Masters Tournament||2||1989, 1990|
|United States||Tiger Woods||PGA Championship||2||1999, 2000|
|United States||Tiger Woods||Masters Tournament||2||2001, 2002|
|United States||Tiger Woods||The Open Championship||2||2005, 2006|
|United States||Tiger Woods||PGA Championship (2)||2||2006, 2007|
|Ireland||Pádraig Harrington||The Open Championship||2||2007, 2008|
|United States||Brooks Koepka||U.S. Open||2||2017, 2018|
|United States||Brooks Koepka||PGA Championship||2||2018, 2019|
a These are consecutive because no tournaments were played in between at The Open Championship in 1871 or at the PGA Championship in 1917 and 1918.
Players who have led or been tied for the lead after each round of a major.
It was rare, before the early 1960s, for the leading players from around the world to have the opportunity to compete in all four of the 'modern' majors in one season, because of the different qualifying criteria used in each at the time, the costs of traveling to compete (in an era when tournament prize money was very low, and only the champion himself would earn the chance of ongoing endorsements), and on occasion even the conflicting scheduling of the Open and PGA Championships. In 1937, the U.S. Ryder Cup side all competed in The Open Championship, but of those who finished in the top ten of that event, only Ed Dudley could claim a "top ten" finish in all four of the majors in 1937, if his defeat in the last-16 round of that year's PGA Championship (then at matchplay) was considered a "joint 9th" position.
Following 1960, when Arnold Palmer's narrowly failed bid to add the Open Championship to his Masters and U.S. Open titles (and thus emulate Hogan's 1953 "triple crown") helped to establish the concept of the modern professional "Grand Slam", it has become commonplace for the leading players to be invited to, and indeed compete in, all four majors each year. Even so, those who have recorded top-ten finishes in all four, in a single year, remains a small and select group.
|Nationality||Player||Year||Wins||Major championship results||Lowest|
|Masters||U.S. Open||Open Ch.||PGA Ch.|
|United States||Ed Dudley||1937||0^||3rd||5th||6th||R16||R16|
|United States||Arnold Palmer||1960||2||1||1||2nd||T7||T7|
|South Africa||Gary Player||1963||0||T5||T8||T7||T8||T8|
|United States||Arnold Palmer (2)||1966||0||T4||2nd||T8||T6||T8|
|United States||Doug Sanders||1966||0^||T4||T8||T2||T6||T8|
|United States||Miller Barber||1969||0^||7th||T6||10th||T5||10th|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus||1971||1||T2||2nd||T5||1||T5|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus (2)||1973||1||T3||T4||4th||1||T4|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus (3)||1974||0||T4||T10||3rd||2nd||T10|
|South Africa||Gary Player (2)||1974||2||1||T8||1||7th||T8|
|United States||Hale Irwin||1975||0||T4||T3||T9||T5||T9|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus (4)||1975||2||1||T7||T3||1||T7|
|United States||Tom Watson||1975||1||T8||T9||1||9th||T9|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus (5)||1977||0||2nd||T10||2nd||3rd||T10|
|United States||Tom Watson (2)||1977||2||1||T7||1||T6||T7|
|United States||Tom Watson (3)||1982||2||T5||1||1||T9||T9|
|United States||Ben Crenshaw||1987||0||T4||T4||T4||T7||T7|
|United States||Tiger Woods||2000||3||5th||1||1||1||5th|
|South Africa||Ernie Els||2004||0||2nd||T9||2nd||T4||T9|
|United States||Phil Mickelson||2004||1||1||2nd||3rd||T6||T6|
|United States||Tiger Woods (2)||2005||2||1||2nd||1||T4||T4|
|United States||Rickie Fowler||2014||0^||T5||T2||T2||T3||T5|
|United States||Jordan Spieth||2015||2||1||1||T4||2nd||T4|
|United States||Brooks Koepka||2019||1||T2||2nd||T4||1||T4|
^ Never won a regular tour major championship in his career.
On 13 of the 26 occasions the feat has been achieved, the player in question did not win a major that year – indeed, three of the players (Dudley, Sanders and Barber) failed to win a major championship in their careers (although Barber would go on to win five senior majors), and Fowler has also yet to win one.
Note: The order in which the majors were contested varied between 1895 and 1953. Prior to 1916, the PGA Championship did not exist; Prior to 1934, the Masters did not exist. From 1954 through 2018, the order of the majors was Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA except in 1971, when the PGA was played before the Masters. From 2019, the order has been Masters, PGA, U.S. Open, Open Championship.
Major championships have been won by a margin of nine strokes or greater on eight occasions. On a further eight occasions, majors have been won by a margin of eight strokes; they include the 2012 PGA Championship, which was played over the Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, for which Rory McIlroy holds the PGA Championship record.
|United States||Tiger Woods||15||2000 U.S. Open||Pebble Beach|
|Scotland||Old Tom Morris||13||1862 Open Championship||Prestwick|
|Scotland||Young Tom Morris||12||1870 Open Championship||Prestwick|
|United States||Tiger Woods||12||1997 Masters||Augusta National|
|Scotland||Young Tom Morris||11||1869 Open Championship||Prestwick|
|Scotland||Willie Smith||11||1899 U.S. Open||Baltimore|
|England||Jim Barnes||9||1921 U.S. Open||Columbia|
|United States||Jack Nicklaus||9||1965 Masters||Augusta National|
For the purposes of this section a runner-up is defined as someone who either (i) tied for the lead after 72 holes (or 36 holes in the case of the early championships) but lost the playoff or (ii) finished alone or in a tie for second place. In a few instances players have been involved in a playoff for the win or for second place prize money and have ended up taking the third prize (e.g. 1870 Open Championship, 1966 Masters Tournament). For match play PGA Championships up to 1957 the runner-up is the losing finalist.
Along with his record 18 major victories, Jack Nicklaus also holds the record for most runner-up finishes in major championships, with 19, including a record 7 at the Open Championship. He is also the only golfer with multiple runner-up finishes in all four majors. Phil Mickelson has the second most with 11 runner-up finishes after the 2016 Open Championship, which includes a record 6 runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, the one major he has never won. Arnold Palmer had 10 second places, including three in the major he never won, the PGA Championship. There have been three golfers with 8 runner-up finishes – Sam Snead, Greg Norman and Tom Watson. Norman shares the distinction of having lost playoffs in each of the four majors with Craig Wood (who lost the 1934 PGA final – at match play – on the second extra hole).
a Crampton was second to Jack Nicklaus on each occasion.
|164||Jack Nicklaus||United States||18||1957–2005|
|150||Gary Player||South Africa||9||1956–2009|
|145||Tom Watson||United States||8||1970–2016|
|142||Arnold Palmer||United States||7||1953–2004|
|127||Raymond Floyd||United States||4||1963–2009|
|118||Sam Snead||United States||7||1937–1983|
|117||Ben Crenshaw||United States||2||1970–2015|
|115||Gene Sarazen||United States||7||1920–1976|
|114||Phil Mickelson||United States||6||1990–2021|
|110||Mark O'Meara||United States||2||1980–2018|
|109||Tom Kite||United States||1||1970–2004|
|104||Ernie Els||South Africa||4||1989–2019|
|102||Fred Couples||United States||1||1979–2021|
|101||Davis Love III||United States||1||1986–2020|
Jay Haas and Lee Westwood hold the record for the most major championship appearances without a victory, with 87 starts.
Samuel Jackson Snead was an American professional golfer who was one of the top players in the world for the better part of four decades and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Snead was awarded a record 94 gold medallions, for wins in PGA of America Tour events and later credited with winning a record 82 PGA Tour events, including seven majors. He never won the U.S. Open, though he was runner-up four times. Snead was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
Arnold Daniel Palmer was an American professional golfer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in the sport's history. Dating back to 1955, he won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and the circuit now known as PGA Tour Champions. Nicknamed The King, Palmer was one of golf's most popular stars and seen as a trailblazer, the first superstar of the sport's television age, which began in the 1950s.
The Masters Tournament is one of the four major championships in professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, the Masters is the first major of the year, and unlike the others, it is always held at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private course in the southeastern United States, in the city of Augusta, Georgia.
The Open Championship, often referred to as The Open or the British Open, is the oldest golf tournament in the world, and one of the most prestigious. Founded in 1860, it was originally held annually at Prestwick Golf Club, Scotland, before evolving to being rotated between a select group of coastal links golf courses in the United Kingdom, under the authority of the R&A.
The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open national championship of golf in the United States. It is the third of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Since 1898 the competition has been 72 holes of stroke play, with the winner being the player with the lowest total number of strokes. It is staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in mid-June, scheduled so that, if there are no weather delays, the final round is played on the third Sunday. The U.S. Open is staged at a variety of courses, set up in such a way that scoring is very difficult, with a premium placed on accurate driving. As of 2020, the U.S. Open awards a $12.5 million purse, the largest of all four major championships.
The Grand Slam in professional golf is winning all of golf's major championships in the same calendar year.
The PGA Championship is an annual golf tournament conducted by the Professional Golfers' Association of America. It is one of the four men's major championships in professional golf.
Jack William Nicklaus, nicknamed The Golden Bear, is an American retired professional golfer. He is widely considered to be either the greatest or one of the greatest golfers of all time. He won 117 professional tournaments in his career. Over a quarter-century, he won a record 18 major championships, three more than second-placed Tiger Woods. Nicklaus focused on the major championships—the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship—and played a selective schedule of regular PGA Tour events. He competed in 164 major tournaments, more than any other player, and finished with 73 PGA Tour victories, third behind Sam Snead (82) and Woods (82).
Lee Buck Trevino is an American retired professional golfer who is regarded as one of the greatest players in golf history. He was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1981. Trevino won six major championships and 29 PGA Tour events over the course of his career. He is one of only four players to twice win the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship. The Masters Tournament was the only major that eluded him. He is an icon for Mexican Americans, and is often referred to as "The Merry Mex" and "Supermex," both affectionate nicknames given to him by other golfers.
Kenneth Paul Venturi was an American professional golfer and golf broadcaster. In a career shortened by injuries, he won 14 events on the PGA Tour including a major, the U.S. Open in 1964. Shortly before his death in 2013, Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The U.S. Senior Open is one of the five major championships in senior golf, introduced 41 years ago in 1980. It is administered by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and is recognized as a major championship by both the PGA Tour Champions and the European Senior Tour. The lower age limit was 55 in 1980, but it was lowered to 50 for the second edition in 1981, which is the standard limit for men's senior professional golf tournaments. By definition, the event is open to amateurs, but has been dominated by professionals; through 2019, all editions have been won by pros. Like other USGA championships, it has been played on many courses throughout the United States.
Pebble Beach Golf Links is a public golf course on the west coast of the United States, located in Pebble Beach, California.
The following is a partial timeline of the history of golf.
Cherry Hills Country Club is a private country club in the western United States, located in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, a suburb south of Denver.
Keith Thomas Jacobs Jr. is an American professional golfer and golf course owner/operator who has played on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour. He is the older brother of John Jacobs who has also played on the PGA Tour and is a current player on the Champions Tour.
Champions Golf Club is a 36-hole private golf club located in Houston, Texas. Established in 1957 by multiple major champions Jack Burke Jr. and Jimmy Demaret, who were both raised in the city, Champions carries a long history for Houston golf. Burke (b.1923) won the Masters and PGA Championship in 1956 and Demaret (1910–1983) was the first to win three Masters.
Canterbury Golf Club is a private golf and country club located in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood, Ohio, US. The club was formerly the home of the DAP Championship, part of the Web.com Tour Finals.
I noticed no one complaining about how the course was too easy or too hard. I couldn't find one bad thing on social media about the scores being too low even though 21 players finished at par or better. You know why? Because the R&A allowed Royal Troon to be itself and let whatever was going to happen, score-wise, happen.