Why 2023 will be a blockbuster year in golf

Golf Tuesday February 28, 2023 By: James Bayley

2022 was a year full of drama in golf, both on and off the course. The three-way tug of war for golf’s biggest stars between the PGA, DP World Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf has divided players and fans alike.

It’s the kind of situation more commonly-associated with professional boxing with its litany of sanctioning bodies, but, unlike boxing, it seems there will be no unification with the LIV anytime soon.

Among the stars to have joined the LIV tour include several major champions and former world number ones: Dustin Johnson, Sergio García, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood.

In a Washington Post interview published on 5 June 2022, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said that Tiger Woods had declined to join, turning down a deal that was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”

The best of the 2022 golf season

On the fairways, one of the enduring images of the 2022 golf season was at the 150th Open Championship – the home of golf. The tournament was particularly poignant for Tiger Woods, as he walked down the fairway of the 18th hole to rapturous applause. This was most likely the last time Woods contests The Open at St Andrews, a course he has mastered like few others.

In the end, the Claret Jug was claimed by 28-year-old Australian Cameron Smith, in one of the great final rounds in Majors history, an unequalled eight-under-par to defeat Cameron Young by one and former champion Rory Mcllroy by two.

Smith was the third man to win his first-ever major championship last year after Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick’s maiden wins at The Masters and US Open respectively.

The first major of the year will be contested in April – The Masters in Augusta. Many eyes will be on Rory Mcllroy as he bids to finally claim a career grand slam, a feat only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have achieved.

Meanwhile, in September, Team Europe will be hoping for revenge against Team USA in the Ryder Cup. The tournament will be in Italy for the first time, and, with home advantage, Europe will look to improve on their 19-9 defeat in 2021, the biggest margin of defeat since 1979. Henrik Stenson was the initial choice for Team Europe’s captain but he was replaced in August last year by Luke Donald following Stenson’s decision to sign up for the LIV tour.

When and where are the 2023 Golf Majors?

The Masters

Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia

April 6 – 9

The Masters is the first major of the year, and unlike the others, it is always held at the same location – the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The tournament is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the sport, and, this year, will debut the controversial 13th hole in its new, enlarged format.

The course features some of the most famous holes in golf, including the par-3 12th hole, surrounded by water with its challenging tee shot.

The 2022 iteration was won by American Scottie Scheffler who narrowly defeated Rory Mcllroy by three strokes.

One of the most famous recent memories of The Masters came in 2019 when Tiger Woods claimed his 5th Masters title, 14 years after his last and his first major since 2008.

Golf Day

The Open Championship

PGA Championship

Oak Hill Country Club, New York

May 18-21

Held the weekend before Memorial Day, the PGA Championships has been one of the most significant dates in the golfing calendar since the tournament was first established in 1916.

Last year the trophy was claimed by American Justin Thomas, the only major winner in 2022 to have previously won one.

The last non-American winner was in 2015  when Australian Justin Day lifted The Wanamaker Trophy, defeating Jordan Spieth by three strokes.

US Open

Los Angeles Country Club, California

June 15-18

The US Open 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 (4 rounds on an 18-hole course), with the winner being the player with the lowest total number of strokes.

As of 2022, the U.S. Open awards a $17.5 million purse, the largest of all four major championships. Last year, the trophy was claimed by Englisman Matt Fitzpatrick who defeated Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris by a single stroke.

Unlike other majors the US Open is open to any professional, or to any amateur with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4. Players (male or female) may obtain a place by being fully exempt or by competing successfully in qualifying. The field is 156 players. About half of the field is made up of players who are fully exempt from qualifying.

The Open

Royal Liverpool Golf Club, England

July 20-23

Founded in 1860 The Open is the oldest golf tournament in the world. The reigning champion is Australian Cameron Smith, who won the 2022 Open at St Andrews with a score of 268.

In 2000, Tiger Woods, having just won the U.S. Open, became champion by a post-war record 8 strokes to become the youngest player to win the career Grand Slam at age 24. After winning the 2002 Masters and U.S. Open, he became the latest American to try to emulate Ben Hogan and win the Open in the same year. His bid came to a halt on Saturday with the worst round of his career up to that time, an 81 (+10) in cold, gusty rain. He went on to win again back-to-back in 2005 and 2006 to bring his total to three wins.

One of the Open’s most recent memorable moments came in 2009 when 59-year-old American Tom Watson led the tournament through 71 holes and needed just a par on the last hole to become the oldest ever winner of a major championship. Watson eventually lost a four-hole playoff to fellow American Stewart Cink.

Ryder Cup

Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Italy

September 25 – October 1

The Ryder Cup may not technically be a major but it’s arguably the most famous golf tournament in the world.

Originally contested between Great Britain and the United States, the first official Ryder Cup took place in the United States in 1927 at Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Massachusetts. The home team won the first five contests, but with the competition’s resumption after the Second World War, repeated American dominance eventually led to a decision to extend the representation of Great Britain and Ireland to include continental Europe from 1979.

The 2021 Ryder Cup was held on the Straits course at Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin, from 24 to 26 September 2021. The United States defeated Europe 19–9, to clinch the largest margin of victory in the modern history of the event.

One of the best Ryder Cup clashes in recent memory came in 2012 at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois. Under captain José María Olazábal of Spain; the Europeans were down 10-4 after 14 matches, with two four-ball matches still on the course and 12 singles matches to be played the next day. At the end of day two, Englishman Ian Poulter made five birdies on the final five holes to give him and Rory McIlroy the point over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson of America. Despite being down 10-6 going into the final day, Europe came back to win by 14+1⁄2 points to 13+1⁄2. Out of the 12 points available on the final day Europe won 8+1⁄2 points with the U.S. winning only 3+1⁄2 points.

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