Majors Can Be Major Confusion


OK, this is it. Promise ' with a capital P. No more majors ' this year, at least.
The Champions Tour has its final one this weekend in the Portland area ' the JELD-WEN Tradition. After that, schools out. No more biggies.
Unless you count the American Express World Golf Championships event. Oh ' and the Tour Championship. Did I mention the Charles Schwab Cup Championship ' the Champions Tours Tour Championship? Or the ADT Championship, the LPGAs tour championship? And uh youve got to throw the Presidents Cup in there, too.
But lets not get touchy here ' this is the last week for major tournaments. Starting with the LPGAs Kraft Nabisco Championship in March, weve staggered through 13 of them. The LPGA had four, the PGA Tour four and the Champions Tour five. After a while its impossible to keep up with them, much less give each of them the attention that the organizations think they deserve.
Lets see ' it started in March with the womens Kraft Nabisco Championship, then progressed two weeks later to the Masters in April. The women wouldnt another major until June, but the Champions Tour got cranked up the end of May with the Senior PGA Championship.
It had been slow going until then. But in June, things really began humming. On three out of four weeks, a major was played somewhere. First, it was the McDonalds LPGA Championship ' Presented by Coca Cola, of course. Then the USGA started its biggie schedule with the U.S. Open. That was the second week. Then the women had their Open the third week ' the U.S. Womens Open.
Whew! But wait ' July was upon us, and everyone celebrated a major. The Champions Tour, as a matter of fact, had three that month. The Ford Senior Players Championship was the first week. The British Open was the second week. Then the elders came right back with the Senior British Open the third week. And the fourth week we were treated to TWO majors ' the Champions Tour had the U.S. Senior Open Championship, the women had the Weetabix Womens British Open.
Double whew! The seniors, in case you are scoring, unreeled three majors in succession from their schedule! And their little brothers, along with the women, each had one.
The women were by now all done. What ' all over with the majors? They started the end of March, had a couple in June two weeks apart, and were down the road after the Womens British.
Not so the men. Now its August, and we just had the PGA Championship. And this week ends the seemingly never-ending march of majors with the Tradition.
The women, actually, have had seven different majors, though they have been scattered out over time. There was the Western Open from 1930 to 1967 ' in fact, it was the only womens major until 1936.
One womens major ' the Titleholders ' was held from 1937 until 1942, took a recess during the war years, and returned in 1946 and was played until 1966. The Titleholders ' which was played in Augusta, incidentally, though not at Augusta National ' attempted a comeback in 1972. But it lasted this time only one year ' by 73, it was gone. So from 73 until 1979, there was a decided dearth of womens championships ' only two.
Then along came the du Maurier, named for the Canadian cigarette that was the sponsor until the Canadian government became uncomfortable with tobacco advertising. So, from 1979 until the government lowered the boom in 2000, Canada had a major championship. Then, when the du Maurier was dissolved, in stepped the Womens British. And thus the saga of the LPGA schedule, where the women have had four majors off-and-on since 1955. Just dont make me try to say which four were majors in any given year. Or which years there were only three majors.
And ' did you know that the LPGA majors had no cuts until 1971?
The Champions Tour ' nee Seniors ' started in 1980 and immediately had to have majors - of course! The PGA of America first had a tournament for the older gents in 1937, so that one was a natural. But in 1980, when the tour was formed, the U.S. Senior Open joined in. The Ford Senior Players began three years later, in 1983, but it was called the Senior Tournament Players Championship, then went through a period when Mazda was sponsor before switching rides and going with Ford in 1993.
The Tradition sprang up in 1989 in the Phoenix area and was dubbed a major immediately, largely due to the efforts of Jack Nicklaus. And the Senior British? That is an IMG tournament that began in 1987 and was added to the majors rota 2003 to give the seniors a championship in Europe.
And the four other majors ' the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA? No one knows who first began calling them majors. And no one is for certain when they first became majors. The U.S., British and PGA seem naturals. The Masters was not originally meant as a major when it debuted in 1934. It was only meant as an event where Bobby Jones could entertain his friends ' it wasnt even called the Masters. But around 1936, 37, it was considered a major ' whatever that meant at the time.
And early in the 1900s, the majors were considered the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Open, the British Amateur and the British Open. That was the four that Jones won in 1930 during his Grand Slam year. And the Western Open was considered by some to be a major during the early years ' it began way back in 1899.
Now, though, its official ' there are four majors. And, five Champions Tour majors ' does it still seem weird not calling it the Senior Tour? And, four LPGA ' er, womens ' majors.
That is, until next year.

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