The four men's major championships offer varying degrees of difficulties, but which one offers the best test of golf? GolfChannel.com editorial director Jay Coffin and senior writer Rex Hoggard weigh in with their opinions:
By: JAY COFFIN
SANDWICH, England – Granted, this comes nearly a month after a young lad shot 16 under to win, but the U.S. Open is still the best test of major championship golf.
The other three majors are great tests for various reasons – The Masters for short game, the Open Championship for dealing with weather, the PGA Championship for a stacked field – but the U.S. Open is the one week a year where every phase of a player’s game is tested on every hole.
Naysayers will take the stance that the U.S. Open is not the best test because there is no skill required to hack a shot out of thick rough from a fairway. The skill comes in the pressure while standing on the tee box knowing you have to find the fairway. If not you’re staring a bogey or worse square in the face.
If you do find the fairway, there is more pressure to hit the center of the green and two-putt for par. How many 8-footers for par does a player usually have to convert to win a U.S. Open? Plenty.
The pressure all elements of the game face during the U.S. Open is second to none. Thus, is the best test of major championship golf.
By: REX HOGGARD
SANDWICH, England – As a “new feature” this year, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews began doling out course set-up sheets – grass heights, tee box locations, key pin positions, that sort of thing.
Although enlightening, the new initiative is an utter waste of time. The only report that matters at an Open Championship is the forecast, which is why the game’s oldest test is also its best.
Set-ups at the Masters, although entertaining to watch, identify a worthy champion, but are largely one-dimensional tests – dubbed in some circles the annual spring putting contest. While the U.S. Open and PGA Championship generally favor players who hit the golf ball very high and very long – see McIlroy, Rory; Kaymer, Martin; Woods, Tiger; et al.
The Open Championship, however, demands a potpourri of skill sets; which test one gets depends almost exclusively on what the weatherman says.
Early Thursday at Royal St. George’s gusts to 30 mph required solid ballstriking and a healthy grasp of the ancient ground game, yet as the morning wave set out on Friday under clear almost windless skies a more modern, aerial approach was the play.
By Sunday’s final round players will likely face everything in between. A complete test, by any definition.