Doughtie Sr. on Golf (March 2014)


As we ,in the Netherlands,prepare for the annual NGF Competitie and the start of the season's medals,the world's top ranked professionals and amateurs are getting ready for the first of their year's Major events.
As always, it is the second weekend of April when Augusta National welcomes invited competitors for The Masters,as they have done since 1934.At the end of June the USGA will hold their US Open, this year, at Pinehurst nr 2.The Open,is contested on one of the links courses on the present rota of 9,in mid July,when  the world's top will test their skills at Royal Liverpool's Hoylake.The season of Majors is wrapped up  with the final contest, arranged by the PGA of America.Valhalla will host the 2014 tournament.
There has been much comment and discussion on the credentials of the latter and it's Major status.Some have advocated that the TPC at Sawgrass should replace it or become the fifth.However,it is 4 Majors,as it has been for many years.
Until The Masters was introduced , the British and US Opens and Amateur Championships were considered to be the sports major events.In 1930 the US amateur ,Bobby Jones achieved the ultimate Grand Slam by winning all 4 in one year,before retiring at 28 years old.He won 13 such National trophies in a period spanning only 7 years
The US PGA was inaugrated in 1916 as a matchplay event until becoming a strokeplay championship in 1958,and although all winners in the earlier period are now credited with Major status,it was not until 1960 that the expression Grand Slam was "officially introduced" and the term "Major"just developed from there....
Arnold Palmer had already captured the Masters and US Open in that year,before flying to Scotland for his first shot at the Open,in St Andrews.He referred to his chances of winning that trophy(where he finished 1 shot behind winner Kel Nagle) and the USPGA ,as a"Grand slam to rival Jones' feat".Palmer who changed the face of professional golf with his dynamic, charismatic approach to each round, went on to win 7 Majors,with the USPGA eluding him.
In fact only 5 players have ever completed the Grand Slam,with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods having achieved it 3 times each.Nicklaus,who became known as the Golden Bear holds the record with 18 .Woods is presented stuck at 14.
The first Grand Slam was achieved by Gene Sarazen(7 Majors) between 1922 and 1935.Next came the brilliant Ben Hogan(9) from 1948 till 1953.South Africa's Gary Player(9) became the first and so far only, non American to collect a Slam ,over the 1959-1972 period.
Some notables,such as Palmer,mentioned above, have won multiple Majors,  but never secured the elusive Grand Slam.Tom Watson has 8 but no USPGA,Sam Snead got 7,while Lee Trevino's 7 Majors, were without a Masters Green Jacket.Nick Faldo has 3 Opens and 3 Masters to his credit and Seve Ballesteros 5. Phil Mickelsen is desperately trying to win the US Open to add to his 5 other Majors ,to gain his Grand  Slam.
However,I am sure that the great Walter Hagen ,that iconic character from the 1920's,with 11 successes would have made it,if the Masters had been introduced 10 years earlier.
In all, US golfers with 259 Major titles, have dominated these tournaments,with Scotland having produced 55 Major winners languishing in second spot.........however I must add that some of the early US winners were in fact Scottish immigrants who had taken US citizenship......but not enough to make a serious dent on the US tally.
I hope you will enjoy all of this years Majors and that your own favourites will supply some good viewing.
One of my own favourites was Ben Hogan whose haul of 9 Major victories was achieved in a period of only 6 years,a feat unlikely to be repeated.In fact he is the only player to win The Masters,US Open and Open in the same year(1953)He returned from Carnoustie,Scotland, after the latter ,with the Claret Jug and decided not to enter for 7 gruelling days of matchplay at the USPGA,due to the physical effects of a near fatal car crash in 1949......who knows what might have been.....
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