Post-Masters primer for 2018’s three remaining golf majors — ESPN golf

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There is typically a big exhale after the Masters. A decompression period commences for many who competed at the year’s first major championship, the run-up having been long and exhausting. Given the time from the final major of the previous year until the Masters, the hype is considerable.

For the past 11 years, the Players Championship has filled the big-tournament void between the Masters and U.S. Open. That will change in 2019, when the Players moves to March and the PGA Championship shifts from its traditional August date to May.

For now, however, there is another somewhat lengthy period before the next major. The U.S. Open is nine weeks away, followed rather quickly by The Open and the PGA.

With that, here is a rundown of the next three major championships in 2018:

U.S. Open, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, New York, June 14-17

Shinnecock is one of the gems of American golf, a links-style course on the tip of Long Island that played host to the second U.S. Open in 1896 and has since held it on three occasions in modern times, including Retief Goosen‘s 2-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson in 2004.

Mickelson was going for consecutive majors after having won the Masters that spring. He and Goosen were the only players under par because of a major controversy that arose on the final day over the treatment of the greens, which weren’t watered and subsequently became baked out and nearly impossible to putt on. The final-round scoring average was 78.72 and players were howling.

Just 11 players who competed in the 2004 U.S. Open were in this year’s Masters, including Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson, who was virtually unknown and advanced through local and sectional qualifying to play his first major championship.

Shinnecock also hosted the U.S. Open in 1986 (Raymond Floyd won) and 1995 (Corey Pavin) and — owing to its revered place in the game — has already been awarded the 2026 tournament. How will it be set up this year? Expect difficult conditions, especially after the scoring onslaught at Erin Hills a year ago.

This is a return to a traditional U.S. Open course, and you can expect scoring (read: difficult) to reflect it.

Here is the USGA’s list of exempt players to date. It does not include those who will qualify via top-60-in-the-world criteria at two dates before the championship, nor does it include those who make the field via sectional qualifying.

The Open, Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Scotland, July 19-22

Often derided as “Car-nasty,” it is generally regarded as the sternest of the 10 Open venues and ranks among the hardest courses in the world. There is nothing subtle about it. At more than 7,400 yards, it is the longest course to hold The Open, and its narrow fairways are often buffeted by strong winds.

Padraig Harrington defeated Garcia in a playoff at the last Open at Carnoustie in 2007. Before that, Paul Lawrie won a playoff over Justin Leonard and Jean Van de Velde, the Frenchman who infamously blew his shot at the Claret Jug when a double-bogey 6 at the last hole would have won in regulation. Course conditions were so brutal that year that 6 over par was good enough to play off.

Woods never matched par that year, shooting 10 over par — and still finished seventh.

Conditions were easier when Harrington won, and as with all Opens, weather typically plays a major role in scoring. While no water is visible from the course, winds off the North Sea coast will undoubtedly have an effect.

Here is the list of the R&A’s exemptions. It does not include the upcoming events around the world which give spots in The Open based on a player’s finish. The Open also conducts local qualifying, which yields 12 spots in the field.

PGA Championship, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Aug. 9-12

It is fitting that the last PGA Championship to be contested in August will be played in a steamy Midwestern climate. The championship at times has been marred by oppressive summertime conditions which often lead to thunderstorms. So a move to May will be welcome in that sense, although it is possible that some favored venues of the PGA of America won’t be championship-ready in the spring.

Bellerive is a well-known venue, but has been the site of only two major championships: the 1965 U.S. Open, where Gary Player became just the third person at that time (following Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan) to complete the career Grand Slam; and the 1992 PGA Championship, where Nick Price won the first of his three major titles.

The course was supposed to be home to the 2001 WGC American Express Championship, but the event was canceled during the week of the Sept. 11 attacks. It did stage the 2008 BMW Championship, a FedEx Cup playoff event, won by Camilo Villegas.

Lengthy at 7,547 yards, Bellerive was built around a large creek that comes into play on nine holes, with water a part of 11 of the 18 holes. Throw in thick rough, narrow fairways, high temperatures and humidity, and the PGA should be a typically draining experience.

And yet, the PGA also is considered “U.S. Open light” in that the PGA of America often sets up its venues with a bit more compassion than the United States Golf Association does for the U.S. Open, often leading to better scoring.

Here is a list of the PGA of America’s exemption criteria.



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