6 Reasons Why The PGA Championship is Golf's Underrated Major
Most young golfers dream of putting on the Green Jacket or holding the Claret Jug, while Americans would relish the chance to claim their national title, but not too many have the (impressive looking) Wanamaker Trophy on top of their list, though it seems somewhat foolish to categorise majors in that way.
Established in 1916, the PGA Championship might be the fourth in terms of prestige and anticipation, but that doesn't mean it's a bad event and it is considerably better than some would credit it as being.
While it lacks the iconography of the Masters, the history of the Open and the stature of the US Open, it makes up for that in other areas, as we explain why the PGA is truly golf's underrated major.
Each of the four majors compile their fields in different ways. The Masters is the most exclusive, an invitational with the smallest number by a significant margin, while the qualifying methods at both the US Open and Open ensure a diverse complement of backgrounds.
But the PGA Championship can boast the strongest of the bunch. Discounting some of the past winners and the club professionals who have qualified to compete, the PGA of America effectively invites all of the world's top 100 golfers to participate in their major, with 96 of them playing in 2022.
So, whoever lifts the Wanamaker Trophy can indisputably claim to have beaten the best players of that time.
Annually, the USGA (organisers of the US Open) find themselves engulfed in controversy about the length of rough, speed of the greens, and the perceived unfairness of the venue they have presented. Conversely, at the PGA Championship, such complaints are rare, the courses are dressed in a manner that is generally challenging but scoreable, without the gimmickry that is often presented at America's national championship.
The man tasked with overseeing these setups is Kerry Haigh, whose presence generally goes unnoticed. And that is a good thing for the golfers and the fans - if not those of us who write headlines.
Perhaps related to those course setups, these settings for the PGA Championship have delivered some thrills in recent years, whether it be Rory at Valhalla, Koepka fending off a charging Tiger at Bellerive, Morikawa's breakthrough in 2020, or Mickelson's history making triumph last year at Kiawah Island.
It may not generate fevered build-up, but the PGA Championship is rarely boring.
Since 2000, we have seen Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson lift the Wanamaker Trophy on multiple occasions, while the likes of Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh have all triumphed this century. Surprise champions like Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Y.E. Yang have added their own flavour to the event. Ultimately, it takes a quality player to win the PGA.
Reflecting the tradition of the PGA of America, the leading 20 finishers at the PGA Professional Championship are invited to compete in the main event. That is recognition for the impact that club professionals play in the game across the United States, supporting the sport at the grassroots level and beyond.
Some would argue that 20 is too many - perhaps - but their presence is a unique distinction that should be celebrated.
Golf Takes Centre Stage
The US Open is often submerged by controversy of their own making, while the Masters is renowned for its grandiose proclamations and mundane chatter about sandwiches, but at the PGA Championship, the golf itself leads the story. This major is solely about the players themselves and that makes it hugely satisfying to watch in a lowkey manner.
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