Pick the greatest major championship of all time

By Al TaysMarch 10, 2014, 9:00 pm

What makes a major championship great?

Is it a great player winning? A dramatic finish? A compelling storyline? Memorable shots down the stretch? A record-smashing performance? A historically significant result?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. It’s all of these qualities, individually and in combination. We considered them all in assembling the field for a match-play competition to determine the greatest major ever. We call it the Major Match Play Championship.

Our 16-tournament field, assembled and seeded based on opinions gathered from Golf Channel and GolfChannel.com on-air talent, writers, researchers and editors, is brimming with the stuff of greatness. Great players? We have Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Sam Snead, among others. Dramatic finishes? How about Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open, in a playoff, with a broken leg? Or Nicklaus and Tom Watson “Dueling in the Sun” at Turnberry in 1977? Storylines don’t come any more compelling than Hogan winning in 1950 at Merion less than a year and a half after he was almost killed in a car crash. Memorable shots? Arnie driving the first green at Cherry Hills in 1960. Jack’s “Yes, sir!” Masters putt in ’86. You want smashed records? How about Tiger winning a U.S. Open by 15 shots, a Masters by 12? And historic significance? Two words: Francis. Ouimet.

A few tournaments dominated the discussion and wound up as our top seeds. You’ll recognize them. At the other end of the bracket, there was spirited competition for the final few spots. Some of your favorites made it, some didn’t.

Among the tournaments that missed the cut: the 2004 Masters, the 2000 British Open and the 1982 and 1966 U.S. Opens. In order, that’s Phil Mickelson’s first major, another rout (eight shots) by Woods in a major, Tom Watson’s chip-in at Pebble Beach and Palmer’s epic collapse (aided by Billy Casper’s underappreciated charge) at Olympic.

How could those tournaments not make the final 16? First, there have been more than 16 great majors, so something had to give.  Second, each was lacking in at least one category. Mickelson’s total majors haul – five – isn’t large enough to lend significance to his first. Woods won the 2000 British Open by eight shots, but that margin paled in comparison to his previous major runaways, 12 shots in the 1997 Masters and 15 in the 2000 U.S. Open. As memorable as Watson’s hole-out at No. 17 was (and as agonizing as it was to leave this event out of the Sweet 16), it didn’t win the tournament for him. He also birdied the 18th and beat Nicklaus by two shots. And the general consensus was that a player’s collapse might make a tournament unforgettable, but not great. So goodbye, 1966 U.S. Open (Palmer), and take the 1996 Masters (Greg Norman) with you.

Now it’s your turn. Your votes will determine which events advance and which are eliminated. We’ll run the first-round bracket on our home page tomorrow, Tuesday, March 11. Voting will remain open until Monday, March 17. We will reveal the Round 1 results and Round 2 matchups the following day. Which major is the greatest of all time? It's your call.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.


Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”