On the calendar, the PGA Championship is always the last of the four majors.
And for some reason, the PGA also seems to bring up the rear when comparing it to its three brethren. I’ve never really understood why.
While it’s true this major doesn’t have the mystique of the Masters, the pure democracy and brutal setup of the U.S. Open or the storied history of the British Open, the PGA should never be considered any afterthought.
In fact, the PGA Championship typically has the strongest field of the four majors. Because the tournament invites the top 70 players on the PGA Tour money list and all members of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, this major has more players from the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking than the other three.
Sometimes it does get criticized for inviting club pros to participate – the top 20 finishers from the PGA Professional National Championship make the field. But that is what helps set this major apart from the others. This is the PGA of America’s event after all, and the club pros who get in are great players. More importantly, they are tremendous ambassadors for the sport and represent all that is good about this game.
On the excitement and surprise scale, the tournament ranks right up there as well. It has produced many different winners – see Rich Beem, Jason Dufner, Shaun Micheel, Keegan Bradley, Y.E. Yang, Martin Kaymer – proving this championship isn’t suited for a specific type of player like the other majors. John Daly also has won it, proof again that anyone is capable of winning this thing.
The most important thing to note is the PGA Championship counts the same as any other major. In the record books, the Masters means nothing more – or less – than the PGA in the major championship column. Same goes for both Opens. And that’s really the bottom line.
Geoff Ogilvy, who has never won the Wannamaker Trophy (he won the U.S. Open in 2006), once said that “no one is walking around saying Jack Nicklaus won 13 majors ‘and five PGAs.’ In the record books, a PGA victory means just as much as one at the Masters, U.S. Open or British Open. That’s good enough for me.”
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.