Ranking golf's past 10 majors
The Masters, the US and British Opens, and the PGA Championship -- which has topped them all in the past 10 major championships?
After the dust had settled on Phil Mickelson's incredible back-nine scorching at Muirfield for the Claret Jug, I got to thinking about what a great first three majors we've been treated to this year.
The Adam Scott-Angel Cabrera playoff was as dramatic an ending as you'll see at the Masters, maybe ever. The Justin Rose four-iron on No. 18 at Merion was a spectacular cap to a US Open that never really got taken over by any one golfer.
Then Lefty's barrage at the third-most played British Open course in history seemingly topped the first two when it seemed like the first two could not be topped.
So I wanted to put these three tournaments into at least a recent historicaly context by ranking the last 10 majors dating back to Rory McIlroy's win at the 2011 US Open at Congressional.
That tournament was not a great one, though it was a great display of sport by the Ulsterman en route to his first of two of the last 10 majors. It doesn't rank high on my list though because the only drama was who would finish second.
Here are my rankings of the past 10 majors:
10. 2012 PGA Championship -- A second rout at a major by McIlroy, but not all that dramatic. The Northern Irishman played 27 holes on Sunday as the Saturday rounds had been delayed by weather. It doesn't take away from his achievement but it wasn't a great major, or even a great tournament.
9. 2012 US Open -- This will probably be remembered for Jim Furyk blowing the championship or maybe the amateur, Beau Hossler, that teased us all as he sat just four back headed to the final round than it will be for the man who eventually won, Webb Simpson. A trying course, but not a fantastic finish.
8. 2011 US Open -- It was a coronation for McIlroy and a much needed one as he'd just dropped an 80 after leading the third round of the Masters just a few months before. McIlroy led wire to wire and became just the sixth man ever to shoot all four rounds at a US Open under par.
7. 2011 British Open -- Mickelson went out in 30 (!) on Sunday and it looked like he was going to shoot a 63 to win his first British Open. But he faded down the stretch and Darren Clarke shot a steady even-par final round to capture his first major. It was a cool win for Clarke, at age 42, but not a great major.
6. 2012 British Open -- Unfortunately this tournament will be remembered for Scott's meltdown more than Ernie Els' win, but when you bogey the last four holes, that's kind of how it goes.
5. 2011 PGA Championship -- This might be the lost tournament of the lot, but it was possibly the most dramatic. Keegan Bradley trailed by five (five!) with three holes left and went on to beat Jason Dufner in a playoff.
4. 2012 Masters -- There was potential for an all-time classic here, but Mickelson double-bogeyed the fourth hole and was never really in it. Still, high drama down the stretch between Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Louis Oosthuizen. And we got two iconic shots for good measure with Oosthuizen's double eagle and Watson's bender at the last.
3. 2013 Masters -- I'll put this three-hole ending against any of the last decade. Thankfully it overshadowed what was an otherwise controversy-filled tournament, with the Tianlang Guan penalty and Tiger Woods hitting the pin. But for Cabrera to erase Scott's lead with birdie at the 72nd hole, come on, that was Hollywood stuff. I'll never forget Scott's "Come on, Aussie!" fist pump either.
2. 2013 US Open -- Between Mickelson knocking it in from the fairway, Hunter Mahan hitting a 3-wood on a par three, Dufner shooting a final-round 67, Steve Strickergoing off the rails, Jason Day chipping in for par on the back nine after hitting it in the water, and (finally) Rose closing on No. 18. I thought what made this tournament great was the number of big names legitimately in it on Sunday. You don't always see that at majors, but this one delivered.
1. 2013 British Open -- Muirfield this year really was a whirlwind. From the moment Mickelson stepped on the No. 10 tee box on Sunday to the moment he raised his arms on the 18th green, it felt as if only five minutes had passed. It was a strange ending -- the tournament was over with four groups still on the course -- but I can't take away from what Mickelson gave us: the greatest, most pressure-packed final round of any golfer in any of these 10 majors. It was a classic performance.
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