Greatest Golf Tournament of Every Year

During the Covid-19 sporting shutdown of 2022, I wrote several historical analyses where I have selected the best annual sporting events in various categories over both the 20th and 21st centuries. These analyses included: the greatest men’s tennis matches by by year, the greatest women’s tennis matches by year, ,the greatest college football regular season games by yearthe greatest college football postseason games by year,  the greatest Wake Forest games by yearNCAA tournament upset analysisranking every NCAA tournament, and the greatest NCAA tournament games by year.   

When all was said and done and sports were ready to resume again, there was really not many other mainstream sports left to do this analysis with except one… after scouring the internet, I could not find anyone that has compiled a thorough list of the best golf tournaments for every year throughout history, which is what I am attempting to do here. First of all, I established a few ground rules going into this, and the biggest one is that major championships are so much more meaningful that other professional tournaments. As a result, you will see that the list is primarily composed of various Masters, US Opens, British Opens, and PGA Championships. Only in years where those four tournaments failed to produce a close or memorable finish, were other tournaments considered.

I took into account several factors when determining which tournament was truly the best for a particular year, including the tournament’s historical significance to both the history of the game and the players involved, the improbability of the final outcome, and the overall excitement of the event.  Without further ado, here is my selection for the greatest golf tournament for every year since 1900.  The first column in each entry features the year, the second column names the tournament and site, and the third column lists the tournament winner and his winning score. Also, the tournaments bolded below are my selections for the best tournament of that particular decade, and the names/scores marked with asterisks are playoff victories. As always, feel free to comment or debate.

1900US Open (Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL)Harry Vardon (313)
HarryVardon.jpg

Vardon (pictured above) wins his only US Open title by besting long time rival JH Taylor by 2 shots.

1901US Open (Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, MA)Willie Anderson (331)*
Willie Anderson (golfer) - Wikipedia

Anderson wins the first of his four US Open titles by winning the first 18 hole playoff in the history of this great major. This is still the highest winning score in US Open history.

1902British Open (Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England)Sandy Herd (307)
Golfer Sandy Herd, Open Champ and Innovator

Herd (pictured above) wins his only major when both James Braid and Harry Vardon miss putts to tie on the 18th hole in the final round.

1903US Open (Baltursol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ)Willie Anderson (307)*
Hand Painted Golf Ball Marker for the 1903 US Open Golf | Etsy

Anderson wins another 18 hole US Open playoff to become the first person ever to win this illustrious tournament multiple times.

1904British Open (Royal St. George’s, Sandwich, England)Jack White (296)
Golfer Jack White: British Open Winner Who Set Scoring Milestones

White (pictured above) wins his only major championship by holding off former champions, James Braid and JH Taylor, by a single shot thanks to a final round 69.

1905US Open (Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, MA)Willie Anderson (314)
Willie Anderson (golfer) - Wikipedia

Anderson becomes the first and only golfer ever to win three consecutive US Open titles by coming from a stroke down to best Alex Smith (not the NFL QB) in the final round.

1906US Open (Onwentsia Golf Club, Lake Forest, IL)Alex Smith (295)
Alex Smith won the 1906 US Open golf tournament

Before Alex Smith the quarteback was the comeback athlete of the year, Alex Smith, the golfer, came back from a runner-up performance the year before to dominate this year’s US Open and become first player to break 300 in tournament history.

1907British Open (Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England)Arnaud Massy (312)

The Frenchman Massy (pictured above) becomes the first non-Briton to win the Open championship by coming from a stroke back in the final round to win his only major championship by two strokes.

1908US Open (Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, MA)Fred McLeod (322)*

McLeod (pictured above) wins his only major title by shooting the lowest round of the tournament in his final round to make an 18 hole playoff which he eventually won over 1899 champion Willie Smith.

1909British Amateur (Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland)Robert Maxwell (1 Up)

The British Amateur, one of golf’s original four majors, has one of its rare dramatic finishes as Maxwell (pictured above) bests fellow Scot Cecil Hutchison by a single hole.

1910US Open (Philadelphia Cricket Club, Chestnut Hill, PA)Alex Smith (298)*
Alex Smith won the 1910 US Open

Smith beats his younger brother, Macdonald Smith, and 18 year old John McDermott to win the first three-way playoff in US Open history.

1911US Open (Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL)John McDermott (307)*
John McDermott (golfer) - Wikipedia

McDermott becomes the youngest US Open winner in the tournament’s history (19 year old) by birdieing the 18th hole in the final round to qualify for a three-way playoff that he eventually won by two strokes.

1912British Amateur (Royal North Devon Golf Club, Northam, England)John Ball (38 holes)*
John Ball, Open Champion and Amateur Golf Legend

Ball (pictured above) wins the last of his record-setting eight British Amateur titles with this dramatic victory over Abe Mitchell in the first Britiah Am to go into extra holes since the 19th century.

1913US Open (The Country Club, Brookline, MA)Francis Ouimet (304)*
The Enduring Legacy Of Francis Ouimet's Improbable U.S. Open Victory At  Brookline - Golf Content Network

Probably the most legendary event in golf over the first half of the 20th century. The unknown twenty year old Francis Ouimet stuns the world by winning this tournament in an 18 hole playoff. The movie “”The Greatest Game Ever Played”” is based on this amazing Cinderella story.

1914US Open (Midlothian Country Club, Midlothian, IL)Walter Hagen (290)

Hagen wins the first of his 11 major championships by birdieing the 18th hole in all four rounds, a feat that has not been replicated in the history of the tournament, to take home the title by a single shot.

1915US Open (Baltustrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ)Jerome Travers (297)
1915 U.S. Open (golf) - Wikipedia

Travers wins the only U.S. Open in his illustrious career by a single stroke thanks to a clutch birdie putt on the 15th hole of his final round.

1916PGA Championship (Siwanoy Country Club, Bronxville, NY)Jim Barnes (1 Up)
Jim Barnes - Wikipedia

The first PGA championship is played using match play format as Englishman Jim Barnes (pictured above) defeats Scotsman Jock Hutchinson by a single hole thanks to a clutch par putt on the final hole of the championship match.

1917Southern Amateur (Roebuck Golf & Automobile Club, Birmingham, AL)Bobby Jones (6 & 4)
Is California youngster the reincarnation of Bobby Jones? | This is the  Loop | Golf Digest

Fifteen year old Bobby Jones (pictured above at a later time) cracks this list for the first-time by virtue of winning what was essentially the only golf tournament played that year in the world thanks to World War I.

1918No tournaments playedN/A

I can’t find record of any legitimate golf tournaments played during the year of 1918, but if someone lets me know of anyone, I will be happy to add it to this list.

1919US Open (Brae Burn Country Club, West Newton, MA)Walter Hagen (301)
Walter Hagen - 1919 U.S. Open Champion - Historic Golf Photos

Mike Brady blows five shot lead in final round and then loses 18 hole playoff to Walter Hagen (pictured above during the tournament) by a single shot.

1920US Open (Inverness Club, Toledo, OH)Ted Ray (295)
Golfers Harry Vardon and Ted Ray pictured in 1920

Ray (pictured on the right) becomes the oldest US Open champion ever, an honor he held until Raymond Floyd eclipsed him in 1986, by parring the 18th hole to hold on for a one shot victory over four other competitors.

1921British Open (Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland)Jock Hutchison (296)*
Jock Hutchison - Wikipedia

Hutchinson shoots a 70 in the final round, the low round of the tournament by 2 shots, to overcome four shot final round deficit and eventually win tourney in 18 hole playoff.

1922British Open (Royal St. George, Sandwich, England)Walter Hagen (300)

Hagen becomes the first American to win a British Open by edging out Jim Barnes and George Duncan by a single stroke.

1923PGA Championship (Pelham Country Club, Pelham Manor, NY)Gene Sarazen (38 holes)*

Sarazen outduels Walter Hagen in an epic match play championship match decided in the second playoff hole with a Sarazen four foot birdie putt.

1924British Open (Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England)Walter Hagen (301)

Hagen wins his second British Open and fifth major title with a six foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the tournament by a single shot.

1925US Open (Worcester Country Club, Worcester, MA)Willie Macfarlane (+7)*

This tournament saw the first 36 hole playoff in US Open history, as Macfarlane and Bobby Jones were still tied after an 18 hole playoff and then had to play another 18 holes after that. Macfarlane eventually won his only major title with a two putt par on the final hole of the seocnd playoff round.

1926US Open (Scioto Country Club, Columbus, OH)Bobby Jones (+5)

Jones becomes the first person to win the US Open and the British Open in the same year thanks to a birdie on the final hole which gave him a one shot victory over fellow American Joe Turnesa.

1927PGA Championship (Cedar Crest Country Club, Dallas, TX)Walter Hagen (1 Up)

Hagen edges Joe Turnsea by a single hole in their match play championship matchup to win his fourth straight PGA Championship.

1928US Open (Olympia Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields, IL)Johnny Farrell (+10)*

Farrell (pictured above) wins 36 hole playoff over the legendary Gene Sarazen with a birdie on the final hole that clinched his only major title by a single shot.

1929US Open (Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, NY)Bobby Jones (+6)*

Jones nails 12 foot par putt (pictured above) on the 18th hole of the final round to force 36 hole playoff with Al Espinosa which Jones dominates by 23 strokes to win his third US Open title.

1930US Amateur (Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA)Bobby Jones (8 & 7)

Jones completes the lone calendar year grand slam in golf history with a dominating finals victory over Eugene Homans.

1931US Open (Inverness Club, Toledo, OH)Billy Burke (+8)*

Burke (pictured above) and George Von Elm hook up in the longest playoff in golf history as the two were tied after 72 holes and after the initial 36 hole playoff, so the tourney was decided by a single stroke on the 38th playoff hole.

1932British Open (Prince’s Golf Club, Sandwich, England)Gene Sarazen (-5)

Gene Sarazen becomes first player to use a sand wedge in competitive golf en route to a wire-to-wire victory to secure the fifth of his seven major titles.

1933British Open (Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland)Denny Shute (E)*

Shute overcomes three shot deficit in final with a fourth straight 73 to force playoff over fellow American Craig Wood, which Shute would eventually win. Leo Diegel also would have been part of playoff if he had not whiffed on short par putt on the 18th hole of the final round.

1934The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Horton Smith (-4)

Originally called the “Augusta National Invitation Tournament”, the first Masters was won by Horton Smith (pictured above) by a single shot thanks to a 20 foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.

1935The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Gene Sarazen (-6)*

Sarazen hits the “shot heard around the world” with a double eagle on hole 15 which enabled him to win the tourney in a 36 hole playoff the following day.

1936The Masters (Auguast National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Horton Smith (-3)

The first three Masters tournaments all had epic finishes as Smith wins his second title at Augusta in three years by one shot thanks to an 50 foot chip in birdie on the 14th hole of the final round.

1937PGA Championship (Pittsburgh Field Club, Fox Chapel, PA)Denny Shute (37 holes)*

Shute overcomes two hole deficit with three holes left in his championship match to win his second consecutive PGA title on the first playoff hole. Shute was the last man to successfully defend a PGA Championship until Tiger Woods did it in 2000.

1938Canadian Open (Mississaugua Golf & CC, Mississaugua, Ontario)Sam Snead (-11)*

Snead holds off stiff challenge from Englishman Henry Cooper in a playoff to win the 12th of his 82 PGA Tour titles. None of the major championships were very close this year for whatever reason.

1939PGA Championship (Pomonok Country Club, Queens, NY)Henry Picard (37 holes)*

Picard wins his only PGA Championship in thrilling fashion by birdieing the 36th hole of the championship match to force a sudden death playoff and then hitting a 10 foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole for the victory.

1940PGA Championship (Hershey Country Club, Hershey, PA)Byron Nelson (1 Up)

Two all-time greats, Nelson and Sam Snead (pictured above), go head to head in an epic 36 hole championship match that was won by Nelson thanks to birdies in two of his final three holes.

1941PGA Championship (Cherry Hills Country Club, Englewood, CO)Vic Ghezzi (38 holes)*

Nelson defeated Hogan and Sarazen in the quarters and semis just to lose to the lesser known Vic Ghezzi thanks (pictured on left) to a bogey on the second playoff hole of the title match.

1942The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Byron Nelson (-8)*

The legendary Nelson and Hogan engaged in an epic 18 hole playoff in which Hogan faced a three shot deficit with five holes to play and came back just to finish a shot short of tying Nelson.

1943Kentucky Open (Fort Knox Lindsey, Fort Knox, KY)Byron Nelson (-15)

I am from Kentucky, but this is only being selected because this was the only legitimate golf tournament that I could find that was played in the 1943 season due to World War II.

1944PGA Championship (Manito Golf and Country Club, Spokane, WA)Bob Hamilton (1 Up)

Hamilton pulls off shocking upset over heavily favored Byron Nelson in the championship match thanks to birdies on two of his final three holes.

1945PGA Championship (Moraine Country Club, Kettering, OH)Byron Nelson 4 & 3

Byron Nelson birdies holes 11-14 on the back 9 of his championship match for a comeback victory in what ended up being the greatest individual season in golf history. Nelson ended up winning 11 PGA Tour titles in row that season!

1946US Open (Canterbury Golf Club, Beachwood, OH)Lloyd Mangrum (-4)*

The first US Open played in five years (due to World War II) was the last to be decided with a 36 hole playoff. Mangrum, a purple heart recipient, wins his only major by holding off Vic Ghezzi and Byron Nelson by a single stroke.

1947US Open (St. Louis Country Club, Ladue, MO)Lew Worsham (-2)*

Worsham denies Sam Snead his best shot at an elusive US Open title by controversially delaying Snead’s par putt on the final playoff hole to get a measurement as to which player was away (see above). It was determined that Snead was but the delay flustered Snead who missed his par putt while Worsham made his for the victory.

1948The Masters (Auguast National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Claude Harmon (-9)

Club professional Claude Harmon (pictured above on the right) pulls off incredible Cinderella title run winning the only tour victory of his career by a whopping five strokes.

1949British Open (Royal St. George, Sandwich, England)Bobby Locke (-5)

Locke forces first British Open playoff in 16 years against Henry Bradshaw thanks to clutch putts on the last two holes of his final round. Locke proceeded to dominate the 18 hole playoff the following day.

1950US Open (Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA)Ben Hogan (+7)*

“The Miracle at Merion” as it has been called is one of the feel good stories in sports history as Ben Hogan recovers from life threatening injuries sustained during a car accident the year prior to win his fourth major championship in a three-way playoff.

1951US Open (Oakland Hills Country Club, Birmingham, MI)Ben Hogan (+7)

Hogan “brings the Monster to its knees” has he famously stated in his post round interview by firing a stunning 67 in the final round to overcome a two shot final round deficit and win his second consecutive US. Open by two shots.

1952PGA Championship (Big Spring Country Club, Louisville, KY)Jim Turnesa (1 Up)

Turnsea wins the first-ever major championship played in the state of Kentucky by overcoming a 3 hole deficit in the final 18 holes of his championship match against Chick Harbert.

1953U.S. Amateur (Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, Nichols Hills, OK)Gene Littler (1 Up)

Gene “the Machine” Littler (pictured above) wins the first US Amateur to come down to the final hole in 17 years as he defeats Dale Morey by a single hole. Ben Hogan dominated three of the four majors that year so there were no real dramatic finishes in the pro ranks.

1954The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Sam Snead (+1)*

Snead outduels rival and fellow superstar Ben Hogan by a single shot in Monday’s 18 hole playoff.

1955US Open (Olympic Club, San Francisco, CA)Jack Fleck (+7)*

One of the great upsets in the history of the sport occurs when Fleck, a municipal golf pro, defeats the great Ben Hogan by 3 shots in an 18 hole playoff.

1956The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Jack Burke Jr. (+1)

Ken Venturi (pictured above) almost becomes first and only amateur winner of the Masters in modern times but ends up blowing four shot lead in final round to give title to Burke.

1957Azalea Open (Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington, NC)Arnold Palmer (-6)

Palmer wins this now defunct tournament played at Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, NC with a short putt on the final hole to hold off Dow Finsterwald by a single stroke. All four majors that year lacked the drama necessary to win tourney of year.

1958The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Arnold Palmer (-4)

Palmer wins the first major championship of his career by a single shot thanks to controversial relief ruling on the 12th hole of his final round followed up with an eagle on the 13th.

1959The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Art Wall Jr. (-4)

Wall overcomes a six shot final round deficit by birdieing five of the last six holes in the final round to win the only major of his career by one shot over Cary Middlecoff.

1960US Open (Cherry Hills CC, Englewood, CO)Arnold Palmer (-4)

The ultimate coalescence of legendary golfers as Arnold Palmer comes back from 7 strokes down to beat Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan for what would be Palmer’s only US Open title.

1961PGA Championship (Olympia Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields, IL)Jerry Barber (-3)*

Barber hits putts of over 20 feet on each of the last three holes to force an 18 hole playoff that he won the following day over Don January to claim the only major title of his career.

1962US Open (Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA)Jack Nicklaus (-1)*

Nicklaus wins his first major by beating the great Arnold Palmer in an 18 hole playoff in front of Palmer’s hometown crowd.

1963PGA Championship (Dallas Athletic Club, Dallas, TX)Jack Nicklaus (-5)

Nicklaus overcomes three shot final round deficit to win his first of five PGA Championships by two strokes over Dave Ragan.

1964Western Open (Tam O’Shatner Country Club, NIles, IL)Chi-Chi Rodriguez (-16)

The legendary Chi-Chi Rodriguez gets the biggest win of his career by posting a tournament record 268 to hold off Arnold Palmer by a single shot.

1965Greater Greensboro Open (Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, NC)Sam Snead (-11)

Snead becomes the oldest winner of any PGA tour event by dominating the field with a 5 shot victory at the age of 52. Snead also set record here for most wins at a single tournament here with eight.

1966US Open (Olympic Club, San Francisco, CA)Billy Casper (-2)*

Billy Casper pulls off one of the greatest comebacks in golf history by erasing a seven hole deficit on the back 9 of the final round to force an 18 hole playoff against Arnold Palmer which he won with another dazzling back nine performance.

1967The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Gay Brewer Jr.(-8)

Brewer birdies holes 13-15 en route to a final round 67 to win his only major title by a single stroke over Bobby Nichols.

1968PGA Championship (Pecan Valley Golf Club, San Antonio, TX)Julius Boros (+1)

Boros becomes oldest player ever to win a major title when at age 48 he shot a final round 69 to win the last of his three major championships by a single shot over Bob Charles and Arnold Palmer. He held this distinction until Mickelson won the 2021 PGA Championship at the age of 50.

1969US Open (Champions Golf Club, Houston, TX)Orville Moody (+1)

Moody pulls off Cinderella major championship in what was the only PGA tour win of his career. He held off three other competitors by a single shot.

1970British Open (Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland)Jack Nicklaus (-5)*

Doug Sanders chokes away his best chance at a major title by inexplicably bogeying the last hole after a perfect drive and then losing the 18 hole playoff on the final hole when Nicklaus hit a seven foot birdie putt for his first title at St. Andrew’s.

1971British Open (Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England)Lee Trevino (-14)

Trevino wins the first of his consecutive British Open titles by holding off Lu Liang-Huan from Taiwan by a single stroke thanks to a 3 under par score of 70 on Sunday.

1972British Open (Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland)Lee Trevino (-6)

Trevino chips in for par on the 17th hole of the final round to salvage a one shot victory over Jack Nicklaus.

1973US Open (Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA)Johnny Miller (-5)

Miller plays one of the greatest final rounds in golf history by firing a tournament record 8 under par score of 63 to come back from 6 strokes down and win his first major championship.

1974PGA Championship (Tanglewoood Park, Clemmons, NC)Lee Trevino (-4)

Trevino uses a putter found in a friend’s attic a week before to hold off Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke and claim his fifth major championship.

1975The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Jack Nicklaus (-12)

Nicklaus holds off Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller by a single shot to win his 5th green jacket.

1976PGA Championship (Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, MD)Dave Stockton (+1)

Stockton hits a 15 foot par putt on the final hole to win his second PGA Championship by a single stroke over Raymond Floyd and Don January.

1977British Open (Alisa Course at Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland)Tom Watson (-12)

Watson outduels Nicklaus with a birdie on the final hole to win this epic head to head showdown known as the “Duel in the Sun” in which both players finished 10 shots better than the rest of the field.

1978PGA Championship (Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA)John Mahaffey (-8)*

Mahaffey wins the first and only major title in his career by pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in the history while simultaneously denying Tom Watson a career grand slam. Mahaffey hit a 12 foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to clinch the championship despite trailing by seven shots entering the final round.

1979The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Fuzzy Zoeller (-8)*

Zoeller wins his first major championship in the first sudden death playoff in Masters history with a six foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole.

1980US Open (Baltustrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ)Jack Nicklaus (-8)

Nicklaus holds off Japan’s Isao Aoki by two strokes thanks to clutch birdie putts on both the 17th and 18th holes of the final round.

1981The Players Championship (Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)Raymond Floyd (-3)*

Floyd comes back from six shots down in the final round to force a sudden death playoff which he won over Curtis Strange and Barry Jaeckel.

1982US Open (Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, CA)Tom Watson (-6)

Watson’s chip in birdie from off the green (pictured above) is one of the most famous golf shots of the past 50 years, and it gave Watson his only US Open title as he would go on to birdie 18 and beat Nicklaus by two shots.

1983British Open (Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England)Tom Watson (-9)

Watson wins his fifth Claret Jug thanks to Hale Irwin’s infamous whiff of a putt on the 14th hole of his third round which ended up costing him a shot at the title in a playoff.

1984British Open (Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland)Seve Ballesteros (-12)

Ballesteros holes 12 foot birdie putt on the final hole to win his second British Open. His fist pump celebration after the dropped is one of the most iconic images in the sport’s history.

1985Western Open (Butler National Golf Club, Oak Brook, IL)Scott Verplank (-9)

Verplank becomes the first amateur to win a PGA tour event in 29 years by besting Jim Thorpe (not the football player) in the second hole of a sudden death playoff.

1986The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Jack Nicklaus (-9)

Perhaps the most legendary golf tournament in the modern era. A 46 year old Nicklaus wins his last major by shooting a 6 under par 30 on the back nine on Sunday to come back from four shots down for the victory.

1987Ryder Cup (Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, OH)Europe 15-13

The Europeans win their first Ryder Cup on American soil in dramatic fashion which reignited interest in this event for decades to come.

1988The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Sandy Lyle (-7)

Lyle hits lengthy birdie putt the 16th hole and a chip-in bunker shot on the 18th hole to claim his only green jacket by a single shot over Mark Calcavecchia.

1989The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Nick Faldo (-5)*

All four majors in ’89 were decided by a single shot or in a playoff but none of them matched the drama of the Masters when Norman bogeyed the 18th hole to miss the playoff and Scott Hoch missed a two foot par putt on the first playoff hole that would have won him the title. Faldo won the tournament on the following hole in the playoff with a birdie putt.

1990US Open (Medinah Country Club, Medinah, IL)Hale Irwin (-8)*

Irwin pulls off one of the greatest comebacks ever by overcoming a six shot deficit in the final eight holes to force an 18 hole playoff with Mike Donald which he eventually won with a birdie on the 19th playoff hole.

1991PGA Championship (Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, IN)John Daly (-12)

One of the greatest rags-to-riches stories in sports history as Daly, who was the ninth alternate entrant into the tournament, comes out of nowhere to win his first major by three strokes and endear himself to fans everywhere.

1992British Open (Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland)Nick Faldo (-12)

Faldo blows three shot lead between holes 9-14 in his final round but then rebounds to win his third Claret Jug by one shot over John Cook thanks to birdies on holes 15 and 17.

1993PGA Championship (Inverness Club, Toledo, OH)Paul Azinger (-12)*

Azinger birdies four of his last seven holes to get into playoff where he narrowly defeated Greg Norman for another one of The Shark’s major championship disappointments.

1994US Open (Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA)Ernie Els (-5)*

The first major championships that I vividly remember, as Ernie Els wins his first major title over Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie in the second extra hole of the 18 hole playoff.

1995British Open (Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland)John Daly (-6)*

Constantino Rocca hits miraculous 65 foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force four hole playoff with Daly which he would lose due to a triple bogey on the third playoff hole.

1996US Amateur (Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, North Plains, OR)Tiger Woods (38 holes)*

The world is introduced to the greatness of Tiger Woods as he wins his third straight US Amateur in come from behind fashion over Steve Scott thanks to two putts of over 30 feet in length on the back 9 of the final round.

1997The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Tiger Woods (-18)

The tournament wasn’t close at all but what it lacked in drama it made up for in historical significance as the golf world changed forever after Woods dominated this tournament to win his first major.

1998The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Mark O’Meara (-9)

Mark O’Meara wins tournament with birdie putt on the final hole, as Jack Nicklaus makes his last serious run at a 7th green jacket falling just four shots short of the winning score.

1999Ryder Cup (Brookline Country Club, Brookline, MA)United States 14.5-13.5

One of the most awe-inspiring comebacks in sports history, as the US overcome a 10-6 Sunday deficit to win the cup by a 14.5 to 13.5 point margin after captain Ben Crenshaw famously states the night before “he is a big believer in fate and has a good feeling about it.”

2000PGA Championship (Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, KY)Tiger Woods (-18)*

Woods outduels Bob May in the best three hole playoff you will ever see. Both players were five shots better than the rest of the field and Tiger’s birdie on the first playoff hole where he follows his ball to the hole (pictured above) is one of his most iconic putts. Both guys hit lengthy birdie putts on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff as well.

2001The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Tiger Woods (-16)

Woods completes the “Tiger Slam” by holding off rival David Duval by two shots thanks to a five under par 67 in his final round culminating with a birdie on the 72nd hole.

2002British Open (Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland)Ernie Els (-6)*

Els wins the first-ever four man playoff history by simply making five consecutive pars in a tournament that saw Tiger Woods shoot the worst score of his career up to that point during the third round.

2003British Open (Royal St. George’s Golf Club, Sandwich, England)Ben Curtis (-1)

Curtis becomes one of the most unlikely major champions ever by winning the Claret Jug in his first major championship appearance as the 396th ranked player in the world.

2004The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Phil Mickelson (-9)

Mickelson finally breaks through to win his first major championship thanks to a thunderous charge on the back nine Sunday where Phil birdied 5 out of his last seven holes to beat Ernie Els by a single shot.

2005The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Tiger Woods (-12)*

Woods outlasts Chris Dimarco by hitting one of the most famous shots in golf history (pictured above)— a chip in for birdie on the 16th hole of the final round.

2006British Open (Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England)Tiger Woods (-18)

Woods wins the first major championship since the death of his father and breaks down in his caddie’s arms on the final hole in one of the most emotional scenes in the history of the sport.

2007PGA Championship (Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, OK)Tiger Woods (-8)

Woods wins the last PGA Championship of his career by holding off a hard-charging Woody Austin who cut Woods’ five shot lead to one on the back nine of the final round but never could catch him.

2008US Open (Torrey Pines Golf Course, San Diego, CA)Tiger Woods (-1)*

Woods pulls off one of the gutsiest wins in golf history by overcoming a severe leg injury to win this title over Rocco Mediate in a 19 hole playoff. Woods holed clutch birdie putts on the 18th hole in both the final round and playoff to avoid elimination in each case.

2009British Open (Alisa Course at Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland)Stewart Cink (-2)*

The greatest “oh so close” moment in sports history as Tom Watson comes within a hole of pulling off the most miraculous feat in sports history— winning a major championship at age 59. To put that into perspective, I wasn’t even born when Watson one his last major title in 1983 and then I was already engaged when he almost won this one. Heartbreaking that it didn’t happen but still incredible stuff.

2010PGA Championship (Whistling Straits Golf Cource, Haven, WI)Martin Kaymer (-11)*

One of the most controversial major results ever as Dustin Johnson gets denied a chance to play in the playoff after being assessed a penalty for ground his club in a sandy patch (see above) that officials deemed a “bunker”. Kaymer goes on to win the two-man, three-hole playoff over Bubba Watson thanks to a disastrous double bogey on Watson’s final hole.

2011PGA Championship (Atlantic Athletic Club, Johns Creek, GA)Keegan Bradley (-8)*

The first major golf tournament I ever attended in-person. Bradley came back from a four shot deficit in the last three holes to force a playoff and then bested Jason Dufner in that by a single shot.

2012The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Bubba Watson (-10)*

Bubba hits incredible approach shot from the pine straw (pictured above) to beat Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole and claim his first major championship.

2013The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Adam Scott (-9)*

Scott hits a 15 foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win his first major championship over Angel Cabrera. It was the first-ever win by an Australian at the Masters, as poor ol’ Greg Norman was never able to claim a Green Jacket.

2014PGA Championship (Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, KY)Rory McIlroy (-16)

McIlroy refuses to wait until the next day to finish his final round and two putts on the 18th green in almost complete darkness to win his fourth major championship by one shot over Phil Mickelson.

2015US Open (Chambers Bay Gulf Course, University Place, WA)Jordan Spieth (-5)

Dustin Johnson (pictured above) blows golden opportunity to win his first major by three putting the 18th green which enabled Spieth to win his second consecutive major championship.

2016US Open (Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA)Dustin Johnson (-4)

DJ overcomes controversial penalty on the 5th hole of his final round to win his breakthrough first major championship by three strokes.

2017The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Sergio Garcia (-9)*

Garcia finally wins a major championship by eagling the 15th hole to force a playoff with Justin Rose and then beating Rose with a birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

2018PGA Championship (Bellerive Country Club, Town and Country, MO)Brooks Koepka (-16)

Koepka wins his third major title by shooting four consecutive rounds in the 60’s but the real story here was Tiger Woods’ return to contention as he made a stunning back nine charge that had the crowd in a frenzy.

2019The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, August, GA)Tiger Woods (-13)

Woods pulls off one of the greatest long-term comeback stories in golf history by winning his first major in 11 years thanks to birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes.

2020The Masters (Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA)Dustin Johnson (-20)

Johnson breaks Tiger Woods’ legendary course record by two shots thanks to six birdies in his final round.

2021PGA Championship (Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC)Phil Mickelson (-6)

Mickelson breaks epic record for oldest major champion by winning this tourney by two strokes at age 50. Raucous mob of fans surrounding final group on 18 was surreal.

2022US Open (Brookline Country Club, Brookline, MA)Matthew Fitzpatrick (-6)

Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick engage in epic head to head duel that is won by an epic bunker shot by Fitzpatrick on the 72nd hole followed by a narrowly missed Zalatoris putt (reaction pictured above).

————————————————————————————————————————————

Like I have done in most of my other year-by-year analyses for other sports, I have conducted some additional analysis to see which tournaments have held the most matches of the year/decade.  The charts below depict those results. 

Standings of Best Tourneys of the Year
US Open36
Masters25
PGA Championship25
British Open21
US Amateur3
Ryder Cup2
British Amateur2
Western Open2
The Players Championship1
Southern Amateur1
Canadian Open1
Greater Greensboro Open1
Kentucky Open1
Azalea Open1

Standings of Best Tourneys of the Decade
US Open5
Masters3
British Open2
PGA Championship1
Ryder Cup1

The final analysis I conducted was the tournament of the year/decade by player.  Interestingly, Tiger actually tops Jack in the tourney of the year standings, as Woods has had more memorable major wins than Nicklaus despite the fact that Nicklaus still leads Tiger by three in total majors.

Winning Golfer of Tourney of the Year
Tiger Woods9
Jack Nicklaus6
Walter Hagen5
Byron Nelson4
Bobby Jones4
Arnold Palmer3
Gene Sarazen3
Willie Anderson3
Sam Snead3
Lee Trevino3
Tom Watson3
Dustin Johnson2
Ernie Els2
Phil Mickelson2
John Daly2
Nick Faldo2
Ben Hogan2
Denny Shute2
Alex Smith2
Horton Smith2
Henry Picard1
Jack Burke Jr.1
Billy Burke1
Johnny Farrell1
Willie Macfarlane1
Ted Ray1
Jerome Travers1
Francis Ouimet1
John Ball1
John McDermott1
Robert Maxwell1
Fred McLeod1
Arnaud Massy1
Jack White1
Sandy Herd1
Harry Vardon1
Jim Barnes1
Jock Hutchison1
Vic Ghezzi1
Bob Hamilton1
Lloyd Mangnum1
Lew Wosham1
Claude Harmon1
Bobby Locke1
Jim Turnesa1
Gene Littler1
Jack Fleck1
Art Wall Jr.1
Jerry Barber1
Chi-Chi Rodriguez1
Billy Casper1
Gay Brewer1
Julius Boros1
Orville Moody1
Johnny MIller1
Dave Stockton1
Seve Ballesteros1
Scott Verplank1
Europe1
United States1
Sandy Lyle1
Hale Irwin1
Paul Azinger1
Mark O’Meara1
Ben Curtis1
Stewart Cink1
Martin Kaymer1
Keegan Bradley1
Bubba Watson1
Adam Scott1
Rory McIlroy1
Jordan Spieth1
Sergio Garcia1
Brooks Koepka1
John Mahaffey1
Fuzzy Zoeller1
Raymond Floyd1
Matthew Fitzpatrick1

Winning Golfer of Tourney of the Decade
Tiger Woods2
Jack Nicklaus2
Willie Anderson1
Francis Ouimet1
Walter Hagen1
Gene Sarazen1
Byron Nelson1
Ben Hogan1
Tom Watson1
United States1

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