Glory’s last shot…yada yada yada.  Definitively the least exciting or compelling major.  Honestly, JK and I nearly forgot to do predictions.

Also, Whistling Straits looks awesome.

Now, for your moment of Zen:

LG:
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Winning Score: -12
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler
Low PGA Professional: No one cares.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Thongchai Jaidee
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make cut
The Master’s/US Open Winner (Speith) Will: Top 10
The Open Champion (ZJ) Will: make cut
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? DJ finally closes the deal.  No stupid penalties this time.
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? See above.
Tiger Woods will: Make cut, possible top 10.
Louis Oosthuizen will: Top 10
Dustin Johnson will: WIN
Rickie Fowler will: Top 10
Jason Day will: Make cut
Martin Kaymer (last PGA winner at Whistling Straits) will: Make cut, possible top 10
Who is most likely to blow it it on the 17th hole on Sunday? No one – DJ take the reigns and gets the job done.

JK:
Winner: Jason Day
Winning Score: -11
Runner Up: Jordan Spieth
Low PGA Professional: Johan Kok
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Robert Streb
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): MC
The Master’s/US Open Winner (Speith) Will: Top 10
The Open Champion (ZJ) Will: MC
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Win it. The PGA, while least compelling of all the majors, is usually won and not lost.
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Spieth in it again
Tiger Woods will: MC
Louis Oosthuizen will: Top 10
Dustin Johnson will: Top 10
Rickie Fowler will: Top 10
Jason Day will: Win
Martin Kaymer (last PGA winner at Whistling Straits) will: MC
Who is most likely to blow it it on the 17th hole on Sunday? Bubba.

Time for the third major of The Year Of The Links Major. This one, the purest form of links golf, the Open Championship at St. Andrews. In the last three contests at St. Andrews, the winner has waltzed to victory, with no margin of victory at St. Andrews being less than 5 shots since 1995. Many story lines pervade our senses–will Jordan Spieth take home the third major in a row? Will Tiger Woods find his game at a place that he has previously been a magician? Can Louis Oosthuizen relive his major championship form when it matters in his St. Andrews defense? Can Dustin Johnson bounce back from a terrible loss at the US Open?

Without further ado, here are our predictions:

Final Leaderboard:
1 Zach Johnson -15*
T2 Louis Oosthuizen -15*
T2 Marc Leishman -15*
T4 Jason Day -14
T4 Jordan Spieth -14
T6 Justin Rose -11
T6 Sergio Garcia -11
T6 Danny Willett -11
T6 Jordan Niebrugge (a) -11
T10 Adam Scott -10

*denotes playoff

LG:

WIN: Rickie Fowler (T30, -6)
PLACE: Victor Dubuisson (MC, 74-71)
SHOW: Tiger Woods (MC, 76-75)
Winning Score: -10 (-15)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Eddie Pepperell (T49, -4. Actual answers: Willett, Niebrugge)
Last Year’s Winner (Rors) Will … (Win, Top 10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Be discussed on TV, but will not tee it. (yah)
The Master’s Winner (Spieth) Will …: Make Cut (T4, one shot away from the playoff)
The US Open Win….nevermind
The current PGA Champ….nevermind
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 (1-Oosthuizen)
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Rickie will continue his stellar play from last week and close wire to wire. (I’d say ZJ won it…big putt on 18, great score in the playoff)
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Rory isn’t there, Tiger shows solid form, and Victor Dubuisson holes a miracle bunker shot on Friday from the Road Hole bunker. (ZJ, Spieth ALMOST doing it)
Will you watch on Sunday? Probably not live, but I’ll watch the replay. (I watched a ton. Great tourney)
Tiger Woods will: Top 10 – he could play this place blindfolded. (I wish)
Dustin Johnson will: Miss Cut. (leader at the cut line…fall away on the weekend. yikes DJ)
Bubba Watson will: probably not even show up. (wouldn’t that be nice? MC)
Philefty will: Make Cut. (T20, -7)
Horschel (Current Fedex Cup champion) will: Miss Cut. (T30, -6)
Jimmy Walker (second to Spieth in Fedex Cup points) will: Make Cut. (T30, -6)
Zach Johnson (LG’s favorite player) will: lol. (lol indeed)
Miguel Angel Jimenez (LG’s ACTUAL favorite player) will: Make Cut. (MC, 75-73)
Nick Faldo (1990 winner at St. Andrews) will: probably break a club during missing the cut. (83 on the first day. yeah)
John Daly (1995 winner at St. Andrews) will: sell T-shirts out of his van in the parking lot. (first outside the cut line)
Tiger Woods (2000 and 2005 winner at St. Andrews) will: Top 10.  Come on TIGER! (yeah..right)
Louis Oosthuizen (2010 winner at St. Andrews) will: Top 10. (my second of two prior champions in the top 10) (good call. T-2 in playoff)
Rickie Fowler (2015 Scottish Open Champion) will: WIN! (Dear God)
What will be the margin of victory: 2 (0.0–playoff)
Will Rory McIlroy make an appearance? Probably in some Nike commercial about overcoming adversity (adversity here being an injury during a pickup soccer game…) (yup)

JK

WIN: Tommy Fleetwood (one shot outside the cut.)
PLACE: Paul Casey (T74 at E)
SHOW: Jason Day (T4, -14–one shot out)
Winning Score: -18 (-15)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: uhm….Tommy Fleetwood (right….not exactly)
Last Year’s Winner (Rors) Will … (Win, Top 10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): count his money (indeed)
The Master’s Winner (Spieth) Will …: Top 10 (yup)
The US Open Win….nevermind
The current PGA Champ….nevermind
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3 (1)
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Fleetwood wins running away (ZJ won it)
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Tommy Fking Fleetwood
Will you watch on Sunday? Tune in to watch Tommy Fleetwood run laps around the field? no thanks
Tiger Woods will: Top10. Probably T-4. (nope)
Dustin Johnson will: Top10. Probably T-6 (close enough.)
Bubba Watson will: storm off the course, proclaiming that “Scottish golf is stupid–bubba golf is rad.” (yes!)
Philefty will: Top10. The British Open is always good to philly (close)
Horschel (Current Fedex Cup champion) will: gator champ at a patron, causing said patron to throw beer at him.
Jimmy Walker (second to Spieth in Fedex Cup points) will: Top10.
Zach Johnson (LG’s favorite player) will: Top10

Miguel Angel Jimenez (LG’s ACTUAL favorite player) will: Make Cut.
Nick Faldo (1990 winner at St. Andrews) will: cheat on his wife or girlfriend. Again.
John Daly (1995 winner at St. Andrews) will: shirtless JD at St. Andrews? Can it be true?
Tiger Woods (2000 and 2005 winner at St. Andrews) will: Top10. Great showing, can’t quite get it done.
Louis Oosthuizen (2010 winner at St. Andrews) will: Just outside the Top 10. He’s doing good right now.

Rickie Fowler (2015 Scottish Open Champion) will: wear orange on sunday?
What will be the margin of victory: 8 shots
Will Rory McIlroy make an appearance? Nike, Omega, the PGA of America….yeah, he’ll be there…in recording at least.

It’s that time again. It’s hell week. It’s our national championship, the ultimate test of golf, this year at a new site – Chambers Bay.  More so than most years, the story prior to the championship has been the course, and the lack of a clear favorite. To help definitively resolve this issue, JK and I provide you with our picks:

Top 10
1 Jordan Spieth -5
T2 Louis Oosthuizen -4
T2 Dustin Johnson -4
T4 Adam Scott -3
T4 Cameron Smith -3
T4 Branden Grace -3
7 Charl Schwartzel -2
8 Brandt Snedeker -1
T9 Rory McIlroy E
T9 Shane Lowry E
T9 Jason Day E
T12 Kevin Kisner 1
T12 Matt Kuchar 1

JK:
Winner: Kevin Kisner (Jordan Spieth; Kisner T-12)
Winning Score: -1 (-5)
Runner Up: Justin Rose (Louis Oosthuizen and Dustin Johnson)  
Low Amateur: Beau Hossler (Brian Campbell at T27, +5. Hossler made the cut, finishing T58 at +12)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Billy Hurley III (MC with an 80 on the first day. Cameron Smith T4 at -3)
Last Year’s Winner (Martin Kaymer) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Top 10 (MC)
How many prior US Open winners will be in the Top 10: 2 (1 – Rory McIlroy)
Masters Champion (Speith) will …: Make the Cut (ha….)
British Open Champion/PGA Champion (Rory) will …: Top 10 (correct)
Sergio Garcia will…: Make the cut (correct, T18)
Dustin Johnson will…: Top 10 (correct, T2)
Rickie Fowler will…: Make the cut (not exactly)
Tiger Woods will…: Make the cut (uhh)
Jimmy Walker (current 2nd Fedex points) will…: Miss the cut (made it, T58)
Adam Scott will…: miss the cut (T4 with a scintillating 64 on Sunday)
What will be the major storyline of the tournament: the course (pretty much. course was awful. Although it could easily be Spieth’s second, or DJ’s blunder).
Bold Prediction?: i just told you Kevin Kisner was going to with the US Open. That’s not bold enough? (not a bad guess)

LG:
Winner: Dustin Johnson (so close)
Winning Score: -4 (but yet)
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler (so far away)
Low Amateur: Bryson DeChambeau (MC)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Kevin Na (first off, T48 at +8. But second off…no, Kevin Na is not “unknown.” He’s a TOUR winner, LG)
Last Year’s Winner (Martin Kaymer) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Miss the Cut (correct)
How many prior US Open winners will be in the Top 10: 0 (1 – Rors)
Masters Champion (Speith) will …: Make the cut, but fade on the weekend (Fade into the fairway on 18, securing the trophy)
British Open Champion/PGA Champion (Rory) will …: Top 10 (correct)
Sergio Garcia will…: Top 10 (close)
Dustin Johnson will…: Win! (close)
Rickie Fowler will…: Second! (not close)
Tiger Woods will…: Play at least 2 rounds. (“least”)
Jimmy Walker (current 2nd Fedex points) will…: Make the cut (yup)
Adam Scott will…: Make the cut (Top10)
What will be the major storyline of the tournament: DJ holds on to win at a ridiculous course.  He is paired with Rory in the final group, but Rory becomes a non-factor.  Fowler, playing one group ahead, makes a run, but ultimately, DJ wins with a solid par on 18. (would have been cool. maybe next time)
Bold Prediction?: See storyline.  Also, Fowler wears orange on Sunday. (hard to confirm what fowler was wearing, since he was absent)

True to form, the season is rounding out nicely. Many tournaments this year have gone to playoffs. We have had a host of big names playing their best golf at the right time. Wins from guys like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Jimmy Walker have headlined a great start to the year. But now, it’s time for the best week of golf.

Every year, that week is The Masters. It’s a our reminder that Spring is upon us and that our days of golf with friends and family are nearing. I think I speak for LG here in saying that our favorite post of anything we do is the one you’re about to read.

In commemoration, here is our 5th year of Predictions: I give you our Masters Predictions 2015:

updates 4/12/2015 :
Top 10 Leaderboard:
1 Jordan Spieth -18
T2 Phil Mickelson -14
T2 Justin Rose -14
4 Rory McIlroy -12
5 Hideki Matsuyama -11
T6 Ian Poulter -9
T6 Paul Casey -9
T6 Dustin Johnson -9
T9 Hunter Mahan -8
T9 Zach Johnson -8
T9 Charley Hoffman -8
T12 Rickie Fowler -6
T12 Ryan Moore -6
T12 Bill Haas -6

JK:
Winner: Jason Day T28 at -1. Correct is Jordan Spieth
Winning Score: -12 -18
Runner Up: Rory McIlroy Solo 4 at -12. Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose were T2 at -14
Low Amateur: Byron Meth Corey Conners shot 80-69 to MC best at 149. Meth shot 74-76 for a 150, 1 shot off
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Brian Harman MC with 76-72. There really wasn’t a true “unknown” in the top10. Maybe Matsuyama, but he’s big in Japan. Hoffman has been known for awhile. The nearest thing to a true “unknown” near the top10 was Kevin Streelman, but even he has some cache to his name.
Most difficult hole vs. par? 4 (i usually pick 11, but let’s mix it up) 11 at +.326, but 4 was +.296 for second most difficult
Easiest hole vs. par? 13 yeah, always is
Last Year’s Winner (Bubba Watson) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut)? Make the cut correct
How many prior Masters winners will be in the Top 10? 4 2, Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson
US Open Champion (Martin Kaymer) will …? Make the cut MC
British Open Champion (Rory McIlroy) will …? Top10 Correct, solo 4 at -12
PGA Champion will … oh yeah, we don’t need to ask what Rory’s going to do again…
When will Sergio Garcia implode? the day he steps off the plane Friday, shooting 74, but otherwise played great and finished T17 at -5
Dustin Johnson will…? close to the Top10 T6 at -9
Rickie Fowler will…? make the cut Correct, but just barely–he was two shots from T9. Instead, he finished T12 at -6.
Jordan Spieth will…? make the cut yea…sort of….he killed it!
Jimmy Walker will…? make the cut Correct. T38 at +1
Tiger will? Top10…specifically T-4 close. T17 at -5.
Phil Mickelson will? Top10 Correct
Ben Crenshaw, Larry Mize, and Sandy Lyle. Who wins? Crenshaw, in his last year of playing, shoots the low round of the triad, and misses the cut by 4 shots. crenshaw shot the worst scores in the field–91-85. Yikes.
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? TIGA TIGA TIGA WOODS, Y’ALL That was big, but bigger was how Spieth demolished the field
What is your Bold prediction? Tiger Woods plays tremendous golf but misses easy putts all day. Rory makes a push for the title but can’t get over his duck hook from a few years ago and puts two in the water on 15. Jason Day does just enough to keep it in play and putt to hold on by 1, finally getting his major. would have been fun if this had happened, but it was still awesome watching Spieth annihilate the record books.

LG:
Winner: Sergio Garcia T17.
Winning Score: -9 Try double that
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler T12
Low Amateur: Gunn Yang This would be the correct answer to the question “who shot the third worst round in the entire field?
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Anirban Lahiri T49
Most difficult hole vs. par? 11 yeah
Easiest hole vs. par? 13 yeah
Last Year’s Winner (Bubba Watson) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut)? Top 10 nope. T38 at +1
How many prior Masters winners will be in the Top 10? 2 correct
US Open Champion (Martin Kaymer) will …? Miss Cut correct
British Open Champion (Rory McIlroy) will …? Top 10 correct
When will Sergio Garcia implode? In the press room after he wins :)uhm…
Dustin Johnson will…? Top 10 Correct. T6
Rickie Fowler will…? Runner Upnot exactly
Jordan Spieth will…? Make Cut lol. yeah.
Jimmy Walker will…? Make Cut correct
Tiger will? Play. he did a lot more than that
Phil Mickelson will? Make Cut so did he
Ben Crenshaw, Larry Mize, and Sandy Lyle. Who wins? Crenshaw – he already called it his last one. by crenshaw not returning, i think we all win
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? Sergio’s putting holds up to win him his first Major uhm
What is your Bold prediction? Sergio wins isn’t a bold enough prediction?  Fine, Sergio’s redeeming win is overshadowed by Golf Channel following Tiger to the port-a-john when he has gas.OH NO! HE BREATHED WRONG! IS HE INJURED?!?!?!?!?!
LG will…? Be attending the Masters on Wednesday and Thursday :) :) :) :) you suck

JK, I think we need to mix up the questions next year.

Also, see our history of prior years’ predictions:
2014: http://thepowerfade.com/2014/04/07/predictions-masters-2014/
2013: http://thepowerfade.com/2013/04/08/masters-predictions-2013/
2012: http://thepowerfade.com/2012/04/10/predictions-masters-2012/
2011: http://thepowerfade.com/2011/04/11/conversation-masters-predictions/

Frys.com Open
LG: “Meet the newest first time winner on tour” I have a soft spot for this tournament because it was the first TOUR event I ever attended outside of the Presidents Cup.  However, since it moved from CordeValle, not sure I care that much.
JK: “Rocco Mediate, 4 hole-out eagles in one tournament (one of them an ace), and he wins by one. That should tell you all you need to know.”

PGA Grand Slam of Golf
LG: “hardest tournament to get into, but even if you do, no one’s watching”
JK: “Seriously? We’re talking about this?”

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (TPC Summerlin)
LG: “the PGA TOUR teaches you how to play hungover”
JK: “It’s like I’m a mirror; I’m bringing sexy back. But I need to get iN SYNC with what goes around. Catch my drift?”

The McGladrey Classic (Sea Island)
LG: “Unreal course, but I’m still not watching”
JK: “The McNoName FTW.”

CIMB Classic (Kuala Lumpur)
LG: “I thought this was a European tour event”
JK: “aka no television coverage during the hours we watch golf.”

Sanderson Farms Championship (Jackson, MS)
LG: LG’s Dad: “that course looks like crap on TV”
JK: “The White Supremacist Tour stop”

WGC – HSBC Champions (Shanghai)
LG: “Rory’s playing? I’ll watch”
JK: “Look, Rory is going to win if it’s in Dubai or Shanghai. Just give him the trophy and let’s move on.”

OHL Classic at Mayakoba
LG: “I think they played the big break there once?”
JK: “WTF is OHL? I thought this was an LPGA major?”

Hero World Challenge
LG: “18 man field? Hard to call this a TOUR event, but worth watching”
JK: “TIGER’S TOURNAMENT (that Zach Johnson wins most of the time).”

Franklin Templeton Shootout
LG: “pretty sure I’ve never watched this”
JK: “hey, guys…our tournament is crap. How can be create more buzz? OH, I KNOW! Let’s call it a ‘shootout’ instead of ‘championship.'”

Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Kapalua)
LG: “one of the most fun tournaments of the year to watch”
JK: “400 yard drives and ridiculous winds make this one of the most fun events of the year, if you can manage to catch one of the rare times it’s televised.”

Sony Open in Hawaii
LG: “golf porn for midwesterners/anyone that doesn’t live in CA”
JK: “it’s like a preview of a retirement community in florida, but with PGA Tour-level golf being played. BOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRINNNNNG”

Humana Challenge (PGA West)
LG: “over under on -22 to win?”
JK: “I can’t believe that guy shot that number on that course. un-freaking-believable. These guys really are good”

Waste Management Phoenix Open (TPC Scottsdale)
LG: “Frat party, meet golf”
JK: “Nothing says booze like Charlie Hoffman and a frat party. Allllllll-right!”

Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)
LG: “Tiger’s first win of the year”
JK: “Hey, let’s randomly play one round on this really easy course right next to the US Open venue. That’ll be fun!”

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
LG: “golf porn for everyone everywhere all the time ever”
JK: “still not exactly sure how this tournament works, but a guy wins it every year.”

Northern Trust Open (Riviera)
LG: “JK, when are we going to play Riviera?? Also, Fred Couples is on TV again, and hey, there’s a video of Ben Hogan”
JK: “‘LG, can’t you get us on at Riviera?’ is stated every. single. year.”

The Honda Classic (PGA National)
LG: “first tournament of the year where you know there’s going to be a lot of big names jammed at the top”
JK: “I keep waiting for one of the NBC announcers to slip up and say ‘WELCOME, TO AMERICA’S WANG!'”

Puerto Rico Open
LG: “Hey, I thought they were playing in Florida this week?”
JK: “You’re so B-string on this TOUR that you have to go to another country to play a US event. That should tell you something. (well, I guess it is a US Territory, but still…it aint a 50 state…)”

WGC – Cadillac Championship (Doral)
LG: “fewest water balls wins”
JK: “Look, Donald Trump is going to inject his faux hair into golf at some point. Let’s just make it here, before the season gets going, and then we’ll be good.”

Valspar Championship (Innisbrook)
LG: “let’s see if we can make up another stupid name for a set of three hard holes”
JK: “How many commercials can you sit through about paint? Readddyyy….go!”

Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill)
LG: “Tiger’s second win of the year…Also, an amazing venue and fun tournament to watch”
JK: “Wish LG didn’t talk about Tiger so damn much. Oh, wait, it’s Arnold Palmer handing a trophy to Tiger Woods…that’s pretty cool.”

Valero Texas Open
LG: “uhhh… not sure who to pick for fantasy golf for this one”
JK: “Alright amateurs….here’s your chance!”

Shell Houston Open
LG: “I love that this tournament basically admits that people only care about the Masters next week”
JK: “If you missed last week, here’s your chance again!”

The Masters
LG: “Best week of the year”
JK: “I have no words for how happy I am right now.”

RBC Heritage (Harbour Town)
LG: “I’m still talking about how awesome the Masters was this year”  This tournament should be moved to attract a better field because this venue is amazing and somewhat unique for the TOUR.
JK: “Jim Furyk’s revenge. I’m with LG–this is a neat venue. I wish it was more isolated from the big tournaments.”

Zurich Classic of New Orleans
LG: “Meet the second/third first time winner of the year”
JK: “Bubba and a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of. Guess who’s gunna win?”

WGC – Match Play
LG: “One of the coolest tournaments of the year… Also, one of the best gambling opportunities of the year for golf fans”
JK: “Cool to review on ESPN. Horrible to watch in real time.”

The Players (TPC Sawgrass)
LG: “Pete Dye abuses the PGA TOUR – no one wins this tournament”
JK: “THE MOST DIFFICULT PAR 3 ON TOUR! NO, SERIOUSLY, WE’RE GOING TO TELL YOU THIS 1 MILLION TIMES UNTIL YOU BELIEVE IT. (btw, it’s not)”

Wells Fargo Championship (Quail Hollow)
LG: “I’m still reeling from the Players”
JK: “F – U Wells Fargo!”

Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial
LG: “Cool venue, but im probably not going to watch the weekend unless Rory or Tiger are in contention”
JK: “Fun to watch how much Zach Johnson’s swing looks like Ben Hogan’s in still frame and how diametrically opposed Zach Johnson’s game is from Ben Hogan’s.”

AT&T Byron Nelson Championship
LG: “An “important” tournament, but same answer as Colonial”
JK: “Too bad this has become what it is. They never would’ve let it be like this while Byron was alive. Makes you wonder what will happen for Arnie’s and Jack’s when they pass on.”

The Memorial
LG: “Jack’s place – also pretty much the only reason to go to Ohio ever”
JK: “Incredible golf course. Amazing field. Not worth watching until Sunday.”

FedEx St. Jude Classic
LG: “I’m running out of clever ways to say that someone new wins this tournament”
JK: “Robert. Garrigus.”

U.S. Open
LG: “Golf is hard”
JK: “I hate the USGA.”

Travelers Championship
LG: “I’m not even sure I can watch golf after the U.S. Open”
JK: “this is a tournament?”

CVS Caremark Charity Classic
LG: “I didn’t know there was a tour event in Rhode Island!!”
JK: “can we watch something else besides golf right now?”

The Greenbrier Classic
LG: “Tom Watson comes to mind for some reason”
JK: “Who can get out of West Virginia the fastest. GO!”

John Deere Classic
LG: “Steve Stricker teaches the TOUR how to putt”
JK: “-27 finishes second here.”

Barbasol Championship (RTJ Grand National)
LG: “Like the name of its sponsor, this tournament is taking a back seat to the premium product”
JK: “BARBASOL! BARBASOL! BARBASOL!”

The Open Championship
LG: “Golf isn’t fair, but damn it’s fun”
JK: “Let’s let the weather decide who’s going to win one of the four most important tournaments of the year.”

RBC Canadian Open
LG: “Tiger hit a crazy good 6 iron here once”
JK: “It’s Peter LeFleur.”

Quicken Loans National
LG: “I think there’s one more major left this year?”
JK: “TIGER’S TOURNAMENT. Wait, wasn’t that the thing at Sherwood? Why does Tiger have two tournaments?”

Barracuda Championship
LG: “Seriously, I thought there was another major??”
JK: “PGA meets Web.com Tour”

WGC – Bridgestone
LG: “Tiger’s third win of the year – I’m actually surprised when he doesn’t win this one”
JK: “Tiger emerges from the ashes of injury and self-denial to lap the field, shooting -20 to the next best score of +9”

PGA Championship
LG: “It’s a major…I’m watching.”
JK: “The most boring major in golf…except all five LPGA majors.”

Wyndham Championship
LG: “Arjun Atwal won this tournament once”
JK: “go watch football”

The Barclays
LG: “THE PLAYOFFS!”
JK: “sweet tournament. Fun field.”

Deutsche Bank Championship
LG: “I still don’t understand the point system…”
JK: “boston. the most confusing tournament of the year.”

BMW Championship
LG: “Steve Sands spends an inordinate amount of time going through various scenarios about who can win the FedEx Cup”
JK: “Look, if you finish well here, you’re awesome.”

The TOUR Championship (East Lake)
LG: “Screw it, whoever wins wins it all” (Also, classic venue and great tournament)
JK: “oh, shit. golf is almost over. Hey, I put 3 balls in that lake on the sixth hole, remember LG?”

Conversation: US Open Venues

February 12, 2015

The US Open. Golf’s hardest test. Every year, the USGA sets out to create a venue that is so difficult that it tests the minds and patience of the greatest players in the game. According to the USGA, the goal “isn’t to embarrass the best players in the world.”

“It’s to identify them.”

Now, many golfers and golf fans have differing definitions of what’s the “best.” Everyone’s definition of what’s “best” is subjective. But “best,” at least in the context of America’s National Championship of Golf, can at least partially be quantified by how difficult the golf course is. So we here at the PF got thinking–what is the “best” (read, “hardest”) venue for the US Open?

Since the 1940s, the US Open’s winner shot +7 four times. But three of those events were in the 1950s, and the last one (the massacre of 1974) led the USGA to the conclusion that the course really was just too hard. (see http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/usopen06/news/story?id=2475245). Because of this, we use 1974 as the cut line for “modern” golf, as it represents a place where the focus of the USGA shifted just a bit, but enough to matter.

Importantly, the venues that hosted these high-numbered events (Merion, Oakland Hills, Olympic Club, and Winged Foot) have all seen US Opens since (Oakland Hills and Merion actually saw higher numbers in 1924 (+9, Oakland Hills) and 1934 (+13, Merion), but those were considered by the PF to be too old to include).

Since Hale Irwin’s win in the 1974 US Open at Winged Foot, there have been six US Opens where the winner had a score greater than even par. Those were
1975 – Medinah (Lou Graham, +3)
1978 – Cherry Hills (Andy North, +1)
2006 – Winged Foot (Goeff Ogilvy, +5)
2007 – Oakmont (Angel Cabrera, +5)
2012 – Olympic Club (Webb Simpson, +1)
2013 – Merion (Justin Rose, +1)

There have also been five instances where the winner’s score was E
1979 – Inverness (Hale Irwin)
1995 – Shinnecock Hills (Corey Pavin)
1998 – Olympic Club (Lee Janzen)
2005 – Pinehurst (Michael Campbell)
2010 – Pebble Beach (Graeme McDowell)

When reviewing the list of courses, several obvious ones jump out. Oakmont, being consistently known as a punishing layout, and Merion, recent site of the 2013 US Open that tested some of the best that showcased how a “short” (by TOUR standards) course could still be incredibly punishing. But it also bears mentioning that Olympic Club made both lists.

So, we looked back at some of these courses to see their history.

Medinah hosted twice since 1974 (just once before)
1990 – Hale Irwin, -8
1975 – Lou Graham, +3

Cherry Hills had only the one US Open in 1978 (twice before 1974)
1978 – Andy North, +1

Winged Foot hosted the 1974 massacre, and then once since, but notably has also hosted the PGA Championship (e.g., when DL III won his only major)
1984 – Fuzzy Zoeller, -4

Oakmont hosted the US Open 3 times since 1974 (and four times prior).
2007 – Angel Cabrera, +5
1994 – Ernie Els, -5
1983 – Larry Nelson, -4

Olympic Club has hosted 3 US Opens since 1974 (and twice before)
2012 – Webb Simpson, +1
1998 – Lee Janzen, E
1987 – Scott Simpson, -3

Merion hosted just two events since 1974 (although one of the three prior Merion US Opens included Ben Hogan’s famous 1-iron shot from the 18th fairway, which secured him a victory at +7)
2013 – Justin Rose, +1
1981 – David Graham, -7

of the “E” courses……
Inverness just had the one

Shinnecock has had 3
2004 – Retief Goosen, -4
1995 – Corey Paven, E
1986 – Raymond Floyd, -1

Olympic has already been covered

Pinehurst has hosted three times, but under grandly different course circumstances for each of the three, with MAJOR redesigns between all of them.
2014 – Martin Kaymer, -9
2005 – Michael Campbell, E

Pebble Beach
2010 – Graeme McDowell, E
2000 – Tiger Woods, -12
1992 – Tom Kite, -3
1982 – Tom Watson, -6

So, based on scoring alone…..there’s really no winner. All of the courses mentioned have had hard Opens and relatively easier Opens.

But winning score really can’t be used as a measure of how difficult the course was. For example, when Martin Kaymer won at Pinehurst, the only two other players under par were both at -1, and the next best player was at +1. In another example, Tiger Woods shot -12 at the US Open in 2000, but no other player was better than +3. And, it would be rather unfair to judge the 2000 US Open by Tiger’s (at the time) scoring record-breaking performance–literally the best golfer in the game playing the best golf of his career at the best time of his career.

Instead of looking at winning scores (which seem to be all over the board), let’s look at scoring average, as this more closely matches what would be an appropriate measure of difficulty.

Shockingly, the scoring average for US Opens is not an easily achievable statistic. For what we were able to find, the list is included below:

and, for the sake of preserving the data, it’s included in quote below

Year | Name | Course | Location | Average | Par | +/-
2014 | Martin Kaymer | Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2 | Pinehurst, North Carolina | 73.23 | 70 | 3.23
2013 | Justin Rose | Merion Golf Club, East Course | Ardmore, Pennsylvania | 74.31 | 70 | 4.31
2012 | Webb Simpson | Olympic Club, Lake Course | San Francisco, California | 73.85 | 70 | 3.847
2011 | Rory McIlroy | Congressional Country Club, Blue Course | Bethesda, Maryland | 73.00 | 71 | 2.002
2010 | Graeme McDowell | Pebble Beach Golf Links | Pebble Beach, California | 74.98 | 71 | 3.979
2009 | Lucas Glover | Bethpage State Park, Black Course | Farmingdale, New York[N 1] | 72.93 | 70 | 2.9286
2008 | Tiger Woods (3) | Torrey Pines Golf Course, South Course | La Jolla, California[N 2] | 74.73 | 71 | 3.725
2007 | Ángel Cabrera | Oakmont Country Club | Oakmont, Pennsylvania | 75.72 | 70 | 5.72
2006 | Geoff Ogilvy | Winged Foot Golf Club, West Course | Mamaroneck, New York | 75.98 1st round | 76.933 2nd day | |

When we examine the data available (and, I’ll admit, there isn’t much), Oakmont is far and away the most difficult course of the last 8 years. 2006 would be a great one to compare to 2007, but we don’t have enough data. Merion would be next at +4.31, and (as that round is in pretty recent memory) the players indicated as such during the tournament, with many complaining that it was “unfair.” By the numbers, Pebble Beach was harder in 2010 than Olympic Club in 2012–and, even with Tiger’s incredible performance in 2000, my guess would be that the numbers would support the 2000 US Open as being harder than the 2010 US Open.

However, just on gut, I personally have always believed that Oakmont is the quintessential US Open venue. It’s insanely long even by TOUR standards, has punishingly difficult hills, has insanely undulating and fast greens, and insanely long rough. And–according to the data–the numbers bear it out.

Any thoughts from our readers? LG?

January 12, 2011.

That’s when ThePowerFade posted this article debating a topic that was much talked about at the time. The topic, like so often is the case with the world of golf, revolved around Tiger Woods. At the time, Tiger was just a few years removed from the man-on-a-mission-and-a-bum-knee victory at the 2008 US Open. He had had temporary setbacks, but nothing indicated long-term that Tiger would face the kind of recurring injury and failure to “put it together” that he’s seen over the last four years. At the time, Tiger–just four shy of Jack–was in position still to catch Jack–at least, that’s what LG and I argued.

But four years did pass. In those four years, Tiger has had some tremendous runs. He first ditched Haney, went with Sean Foley, then ditched Foley. He had 5 wins in 2013, two of which were WGC championships, was #1 on the money list, and regained the world #1 ranking. To be sure, he still has the ability to beat the best.

Which is what makes this topic all too frustrating. Tiger’s measure of his own success has been and always will be how he stacks up in majors. Sure, he is proud of having won 79 of his 316 TOUR starts (That’s winning 25%, or one out of every four tournaments he’s entered). But the injuries that took him out of most of 2014 and are now creeping back up in 2015–plus his seeming inability to turn it on when he needs to in major championships–has us revisiting this question: will Tiger catch Jack?

And, at this point, I think the answer has changed to “no” for the same reason that it was a “yes” in 2011. Math.

Tiger Woods is now 39 years old. If he stays in good shape, he has 7-8 more good years of competitive golf left (look at Mickelson, who still competes at 44). But that assumes he won’t be hurt, and, as I type this, Tiger has just pulled out of the Farmer’s Open at Torrey Pines (one of his favorite venues–and, ironically, site of that 2008 US Open where it all started). However, even if Tiger Woods were to have a full 8 years on the Tour, he’d only have 32 major opportunities left in which to achieve 4 major victories (to tie) or 5 major victories (to overtake). That means Tiger has to win 1/8 (once every two years) to tie, and has to do better to overtake. Now, in 2011, I said “if he just wins twice in three years, he’ll overtake Jack by 2016.” Well, it’s the start of 2015, and Tiger has hardly sniffed a major championship since I wrote that in 2011 (two T4s in The Masters (2011/2013) and a T3 and T6 at The British Open (2012/2013), but he wasn’t really in contention in either). The other caveat is that, when making those projections in 2011, that was a “likely case” scenario, with potential other scenarios in which Tiger could overtake Jack. With this analysis, this is the ONLY way Tiger could do it.

And, frankly, the talent out there with Tiger is better these days. Rory McIlroy seems to just find grooves sometimes where he’s an unstoppable force (and, other grooves where he can’t find the face of the club, but let’s not focus on that now). Aside from him, unfocused Dustin Johnson has enough talent to win a major without trying. Bubba Watson is a double Masters champion in just a few years, and seems like he’s figured out something about Augusta that no one else has. Martin Kaymer can obliterate a field of the best of the world when his game is buttoned up. And, then there’s Mickelson, who just never seems to go away. Throw in all the other players who have a ton of potential and are just waiting in the wings to pick up their first majors (e.g., Rickie Fowler, Jordan Speith, Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Ryan Moore, Sergio Garcia, et. al) and the guys who have won majors and could easily threaten for another (e.g., Justin Rose, Oosthuizen, Dufner, Charl Schwartzel, etc.), and Tiger’s competition just seems to get better and better.

At this point, I certainly hope I’m wrong. Golf needs Tiger to come back and dominate. But, I really don’t think I am. In early 2015, it’s time to call a spade a spade. Tiger will not break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins.

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