After a barnstorming 2021, this season has a lot to live up to in terms of excitement in the professional game. From a competitive perspective, the focus will be on both the men’s and women’s Majors, with a growing pool of international talent. There may be no transAtlantic team contests on the calendar, but the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in September will see the International team take on a US side that should be as robust as the one that showed Europe a clean pair of heels at Whistling Straits last September.
Off course, significant changes and investments could have long-term repercussions for pro golf. Indeed, the season could be a transitional one, with a new generation of players and a new competitive schedule starting to take shape.
In standard style, the men’s Major season begins at Augusta with the 86th Masters from April 7-10. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama will defend. As it is an invitation-only tournament, the field is smaller than most regular tour events and the other three Majors, with just 90-100 players teeing it up.
Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have both won five Masters titles. Nicklaus should be one of the honorary starters again in 2022, and it will be interesting to see if Woods competes following an extended injury lay-off.
The USPGA Championship will be played at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from May 19. Phil Mickelson will defend the Wanamaker Trophy against one of the strongest fields in golf. First played in 1916, the USPGA was a match play event until 1958, since when it has been contested over 72 holes of strokeplay. Southern Hills has played host to four USPGA Championships, most recently in 2007, when Tiger held off Woody Austin and Ernie Els to take the title.
From June 16-19, the US Open will be played at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Jon Rahm defends at a venue European golfing fans know all too well. At Brookline in 1999, the States won an intense Ryder Cup that culminated in a US pitch invasion of the 17th green. It will be the first US Open held at Brookline since Curtis Strange beat Nick Faldo in a play-off for the title there in 1988.
Finally, golf comes home for the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews from July 14-17. Collin Morikawa will defend his title after a fine win at Royal St George’s last year, and the best in the world will be keen to add a rare accolade to their CVs; to become only the 25th player to be named ‘Champion golfer of the year’ at St Andrews.
The women’s Majors kick off with the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in California from March 31 to April 3. Formerly the ANA Inspiration, the event will move to a later date and new venue (probably around Houston) from 2023. Patty Tavatanakit defends with players competing for a purse of $5 million – a 60 per cent rise from 2021.
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