Local Knowledge

Does pro golf have a major (championship) problem?

June 27, 2022

Matt Fitzpatrick is congratulated by Rory McIlroy after winning the 2022 U.S. Open.

David Cannon

Rory McIlroy had just finished tied for fifth at the 2022 U.S. Open when he said what many golf fans were thinking. "Um, another top five at a major. Guess that doesn't really mean anything."

Sadly, for a player of McIlroy's caliber, that seems to be the prevailing sentiment. After all, this is a guy who won four major championships by the time he was 25, two of them eight-shot routs that drew Tiger Woods comparisons. But despite a slew of high finishes—and having essentially won every other possible title since—McIlroy's major drought is about to reach eight years.

Which leads us to the topic of our latest Local Knowledge podcast. Does men's pro golf have a major (championship) problem? Or, put differently, is there too much emphasis put on these four events on a jam-packed golf calendar?

Jack Nicklaus has won 18 of them, and his supporters in the GOAT debate vs. Tiger Woods certainly count his 19 runner-ups as well. So, yes, Rory, close calls should count for something.

But it certainly feels like we've reached a point where majors are treated as all-or-nothing endeavors. Is that good for the game? Particularly when one of the game's biggest stars hasn't won one of the biggest tournaments in so long?

On this episode, we talk with legendary golf writers Jaime Diaz and Michael Bamberger about the history of golf's four majors and how we got to this point. We also compare golf to other sports, and crunch some numbers to better understand if these four events are possibly overvalued. Please have a listen: