Golf is a sport synonymous with an American sporting legend, Tiger Woods. Although Tiger has struggled with injuries in recent years there are a number of young American golfers who have stepped up in his place. But what is golf across the pond all about? Here’s the simple version.
The PGA Tour
The PGA tour is an annual professional series of tournaments in the United States and offers some of the most lucrative events outside of the four majors. Some of the flagship tournaments include The Players Championship held at TPC Sawgrass and the FedEx cup. Players compete for prize money with the rankings list structured in terms of who has won on the most prize-money. Golfers need to earn enough money to retain a spot in the top 125 in the rankings to earn a tour card for the next season. New players can earn a tour card through the Web.com tour.
1. The Masters
The first major of the year is arguably one of America’s most famous sporting events, the Masters. Played at the legendary Augusta National Golf Course, the Masters is renowned for the beautiful, pristine condition of the course, and the challenge in winning the title. The winner of the Master’s is awarded a green jacket, enabling him to become part of an exclusive club at Augusta National. Each winner is handed their green jacket by the previous year’s winner, and also hosts a dinner before the start of the next year’s tournament. The event was won by American Bubba Watson, two out of the past three seasons, but this year the tournament was won by young American star Jordan Spieth; aged just 21.
2. The US Open
The United States Open Championship is the second major of the year and is played in mid-June. The tournament is renowned for making scoring difficult at the courses it is played on; often with unforgiving rough, ensuring the players have to be accurate off-the-tee and drive the ball well. In the recent history of the US open, Americans have struggled to win, with only three winners in the last ten years. The last American to win the US Open was Webb Simpson in 2012.
3. The Open Championship
The third major of the year is the Open Championship; it’s the oldest of the majors and is the only major played out side of the United States. Played on links courses around the UK, the Open is renowned for high winds, and often poor weather conditions offering up a challenge unlike any of the other majors. United States golfers have a good history with the Open, and Tiger Woods has won three open championships in recent times; the last American to win was Phil Mickelson in 2013.
The PGA championships is the final of the four majors in the year; it is also the most lucrative in terms of prize money on offer. Winners of the PGA Championships are automatically invited to the other three majors for the next five years and are exempt from qualifying for the PGA tour for life. Tiger Woods has won four PGA championships and the last American winner was Jason Dufner in 2013.
As mentioned previously, Jordan Spieth won the 2015 Master championships and is currently one of the hottest golfers in the world. At aged just 21 years old, he is already ranked number two in the world and looks destined to challenge Europe’s leading golfer, Rory McIlroy, for many years.
One of the most mercurial talents in the world of golf is Bubba Watson. A swashbuckling left-hander who reportedly never had a professional lesson of golf growing up; Bubba has won two Masters titles and is renowned for how far he drives the ball and his ability to shape shots.
Although enduring a tough couple of seasons, Phil Mickelson remains one of America’s finest golfers. Another left-hander, Phil has won five major championships and 42 events on the PGA Tour and is still a threat at every event he enters with his world-famous short game.
Tiger has struggled with a number of serious injuries, including his back and knee and has gone through a complete swing transformation in the hope of taking the strain from his body. Having not won a major since 2008 Tiger endured a rough start to the season and took time out to work on his game. Although it’s uncertain if Tiger will ever compete for a major again, he had a promising showing in the 2015 Master’s championships and can never be ruled out completely.
Other names to look out for include 24-year-old Patrick Reed and 26-year-old Ricky Fowler, who have both contended in major championships and may be the next American stars to breakthrough.
The Web.com tour operates as the development tour for the PGA tour and features players who have either failed to earn enough money to stay on the PGA tour, or players who are looking to qualify for the first time. There are a series of events on the Web.com tour with rankings similar to the PGA tour. If a player ranks in the top 25 at the end of the Web.com tour, they are given a PGA tour card for the next season.