I am planning a trip to the US Open at Pinehurst and I became intrigued by some of the historical details of the place, the contest and its significance.
As is the case for any of my meandering, it can best be described as rabbit trail research, as I try to find some intriguing dots to connect. I was looking through a drawerwhere I keep old yardage books and I happened across one signed by Michael Campbell from Pinehurst No. 2. I wondered why he hadn’t won more tournaments. Of course, that got me thinking further of how difficult it is for some players to win, let alone win a major. How many players have gone on to win just one major and never be able to repeat the feat? Since the inaugural Open Championship of 1860 there have been 71 multiple major champions. Which majors were the ‘easiest’ to make a first major win? Would any of the majors lead to a greater likelihood of being a multiple major winner?
Despite the debate over the years of what constitutes a major, I figured a fair starting point should be when different majors were available. The Open Championship, having started in 1860 has been contested 143 times. It alone had 9 multiple winners when it was the only ‘professional’ major and up to the year 1900 it had 15 one-time winners.
So we begin our measure with the introduction of the US Open. In that time, the US Open has been conducted 113 times, the PGA Championship 95 times and the Masters 77 times. Due to World Wars I & II some events were necessarily skipped (none more so than in the United Kingdom where 11 Opens were missed). Let’s first look at first-time/one-time major winners, those who have made a major their first and only. The easiest appears to be the US Open with 37.16 percent (42 of 113), followed by the PGA Championship with 36.8 percent (35 of 95), then the Open Championship at 26.57 precent (38 of 108) and finally the Masters with23.37 percent (18 of 77).
Stated in percentage terms the ‘easiest’ first major for those who go on to be multiple major champions, appears to be the US Open with 18.6 percent (21 of 113) followed by the Masters 16.9 percent (13 of 77) then the PGA with 15.8 percent (15 of 95) and the Open Championship, apparently the most difficult to be a multiple major winner with only 12.0 percent (13 of 108). Based on that pseudo-scientific approach, the irrefutable conclusion to be drawn might be that The Masters is overall the most difficult major to win and from which to springboard to other majors. Or perhaps, The Masters is the most desirable major which leads to a higher degree of mental clenching.
Could it be that once acquired, the Masters is the most satiating of the majors, satisfying the cravings more completely than the others? It appears that we go through periods where players find it more difficult to add a second major. Of the 40 majors contested in the 1960s, 25 different people were winners. Of the remaining 15 majors, 14 of them were further divided by the triumvirate of Palmer, Player and Nicklaus. Of the 40 majors of the 2000’s, 21 people participated in winning. Of course one of them took 12 all to himself – can you say ‘insatiable’?
How dissatisfied was the last major winner? That answer may be the best benchmark of whether he gets another.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?