Friday, May 25, 2007

Ranking the top 10 events in golf

With The Players and the Wachovia Champioship behind us and The Memorial and U.S. Open on the horizon, the PGA Tour is in the midst of one of the meatiest portions of its schedule - last week and this week notwithstanding.

Golf is built on big events. That’s why the majors define careers.

So what are the 10 biggest events on the PGA Tour?

Here’s one man’s ranking:

1. The Masters
It’s the best for so many reasons - the course, the history, Amen Corner, green jackets, Hogan shooting 66 near the end of his career, Arnie making double at the last to lose, Gene Sarazen’s double eagle, Jack in ’86 ... shall I go on?

2. The Open Championship

The case can be made that it’s the biggest tournament to the rest of the world and that’s probably true. It has had some quirky winners recently (Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton come to mind) but it’s played on fantastic courses and has a feel unlike anything else. Golf in the Open is played on the ground as well as through the air, something missing in American golf. Plus the Claret Jug is really cool.

3. The U.S Open

It’s as charming as a set of brass knuckles to the teeth but it’s the American national championship. The USGA’s obsession with par has taken much of the fun from the Open but it’s usually a captivating struggle to watch as Phil Mickelson demonstrated last June.

4. The PGA Championship

This one gets almost everything right. The course set-up is demanding but not sadistic. It’s played on terrific layouts that produce action more than reaction. And it almost always has a compelling storyline.

5. The Players

No, it’s not the fifth major. It’s The Players, an event unique unto itself. The course is largely responsible for making it what it is - memorable. Yeah, the 17th hole may be gimmicky but so what? It’s one of the reasons we pay so much attention. Plus, with the new giant clubhouse there, if they get a rain delay, there’s enough room to let everyone come inside.

6. Wachovia Championship

In five years, it’s become a model for PGA Tour events. When you put together a great old-style course, a perfect date, leadership that understands golf and has a commitment to being the best, you get the Wachovia Championship. There’s a reason 27 of the top 30 in the world played here this year.

7. The Memorial

Jack’s tournament is one of those special events that jump out on the schedule. It has a Masters feel to it in spots and it’s played on a fantastic golf course. It also has Jack, who did everything right.

8. The Nissan

It’s played at Riviera Country Club, which immediately makes it special. It’s also played when most of us back east are still caught in winter and our golf season still hasn’t come to life. The par-4 10th hole is one of the best short par-4s in the world and it’s in L.A., baby.

9. WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship

Match-play golf doesn’t always produce a made-for-TV showdown of the stars but it’s a great window into the mental side of competitive golf. Every match is a different story. Plus, if Nick O’Hern can take down Tiger Woods twice, there’s something unique about it.

10. Verizon Heritage

It’s the perfect after-Masters decompression chamber. Hilton Head. The beach. Bike paths. Alligators. No pressure. A good field. An extraordinary golf course, Mid-April. Seafood. The Calibogue Sound. Maybe it should be rated higher.


Anonymous said...

You can't leave out the Ryder Cup!!!