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What's The Best Way For Golfers to Prepare For a Major

By: | Tue 26 Mar 2024

All golfers prepare for majors in different ways. In the year 2000, Tiger Woods won the US Open, The Open and the US PGA Championship - and the following April he added The Masters to become the first golfer in the modern era to hold all four major titles simultaneously.

It was a stellar year for Woods. He won an incredible nine tournaments in 2000. Apart from his majors, he also picked up the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Bay Hill Invitational, the Memorial, the WGC-NEC Invitational and the Canadian Open. And just for good measure, he was second at the Buick Invitational, runner-up at the Accenture WGC Match Play, Players Championship and Tour Championship. He made 20 starts, did not miss a single cut and his worst finish was tied 23rd at the Western Open.

He took at least one week off before every major other than the US PGA, finishing tied 11th at the Buick Open.

The final stop before this year’s Masters is the Texas Open and it is interesting to note that world number one Scottie Scheffler has opted to sit it out, although he will be playing in the Houston Open this week

Scheffler has already won twice this season, claiming the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes and storming through the field on the final day at TPC Sawgrass to win an astonishing Players Championship. Scheffler also took a break before his 2023 Masters defence.

He played 23 tournaments during the 2023 season, winning twice.

There is no doubt that winning a golf tournament takes it out of you. I was extremely surprised to see that Rory McIlroy has entered the Texas Open. 

Unlike the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Woods, whose planning for the four majors was meticulous and always followed the same pattern, McIlroy has taken a scattergun approach to the year’s four biggest tournaments. 

He is still desperately looking for a formula that will finally allow him to end a drought in the majors that now goes back almost 10 years. And, of course, he will once again arrive at Augusta once again looking for the victory that will allow him to complete the career Grand Slam.

Rory McIlroy

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

McIlroy will want to play well in Texas but take it from me - he will not want to win the tournament.

No matter how he plays though, he will be one of the favourites to win The Masters. But this will have nothing to do with current form. Yes, he finished second at the Dubai Invitational and won the Dubai Desert Classic the following week, but that form has since deserted him.

He has made five starts on the PGA Tour this season, making the cut at each. But his best finish is a tied 19th at the Players Championship. He started that tournament with a fabulous round of 65 and then went backwards in a hurry. There were plenty of birdies, but there were almost as many dropped shots as he finished with rounds of 73, 69 and 72. He is 61st in the FedEx Cup standings and has picked up just $780,000 in prize money - to put this in perspective, Scheffler’s on course earnings are a staggering $10.9m.

McIlroy has always been a streaky player and Augusta National should be made for his game, but with each passing year the pressure on him to win only grows. And the harder he tries the more difficult it seems to become.

He arrived at Augusta National 12 months ago in fabulous form and started the week as favourite to win. He missed the cut. This time he is unlikely to figure when pundits attempt to predict the winner. But it would be entirely typical of the Northern Irishman if he were to storm to an unexpected victory.

Wyndham Clark will most certainly be one of those in the conversation when it comes to possible winners of the Green Jacket. And the US Open champion is another who does things his own way. Last year, Clark made 28 starts, winning twice and making 25 cuts. He also managed eight top 10s.

He has already made seven starts in 2024. So he plays more golf than the likes of Scheffler and McIlroy but it works for him. Some golfers need to play a lot of competitive golf. 

Sungjae Im simply cannot get enough. Last year he made 31 starts, missing six cuts. He failed to record a win but had nine top 10s and an astonishing 19 top 25s.

Defending champion Jon Rahm has, of course, defected to LIV Golf and will arrive at Augusta having played just five 54-hole events. The same will apply to Brooks Koepka. It remains to be seen how such a light playing schedule will impact on Rahm’s game, but it certainly hasn’t affected Koepka, who finished second at Augusta last year and went on to win the US PGA Championship in May.

So everybody does it differently and all of the above simply goes to prove that there is no right or wrong way to prepare for a major.

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Tags: PGA Tour LIV Golf european tour dp world tour

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