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Ranking the 2013 major championships: The significance of each victory

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When Jason Dufner gently tapped in his final putt at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, he both secured his first major victory and ended the 2013 major season.

Dufner’s cruise-control final-round 68 made the Auburn grad the closing entry on the list of 2013’s major winners, following Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson.

Looking back at this year’s four most significant tournaments (apologies to the Tour and Players championships), it’s fitting to examine the significance of each victory within the respective victor’s career.

Adam_Scott_Masters_Win_2013

No. 1: Adams Scott’s Masters win

With his compelling playoff victory over Angel Cabrera at this year’s Masters, Adam Scott did two important things: The then 32-year-old shed the mantle of “best golfer without a major” and became the first Australian to capture the green jacket.

Further for Scott, who famously melted down over the final holes of the 2012 Open Championship, there was a significant element of redemption in the win. For the Australian’s confidence and forward momentum, the major win couldn’t have been more significant.

When Scott stood victorious, replete with his green jacket in the rain, there was a sense of order in the golfing gods’ universe. No other major win this was nearly so poetic or profound. Thus, Scotty tops this list.

Justin_Rose_US_Open_Win_2013

No. 2: Justin Rose’s U.S. Open win

In the same way that Adam Scott rid himself of an unwanted epithet, Justin Rose’s last-man-standing-style win at the U.S. Open at Merion removed the Englishman from consideration for the best golfer without a major designation.

Further, outlasting a field of the world’s best, including the charging Phil Mickelson, and holing critical putts, the statistically poor putter’s week was truly inspired. Rose, who fired rounds of  71-69-71-70 at Merion, capitalized on the promise most golf fans first saw at the 1998 Open Championship, where he finished fourth.

His ability to get up-and-down for par at the final hole displayed a steely resolve more often association with another Sean Foley pupil. That, plus the entirity of the experience, from lifting the U.S. Open Championship trophy to the resultant whirlwind media tour, will make Rose a more comfortable and confident major contender going forward … and likely a multiple major winner.

Phil_Mickelson_Open_Championship_2013

No. 3: Phil Mickelson’s Open Championship win

Until a week before the Open Championship, it was widely believed that Phil Mickelson wouldn’t win in Europe and couldn’t win on a traditional links style course. The left-hander dispelled both myths with his Scottish Open triumph the week before the Open Championship.

Four birdies over the final six holes and a spectacular final-round 66 facilitated Mickelson’s victory at Open Championship, a tournament where he had only two previous top 10s in his career. With the win, Mickelson captured his fifth career major and the third leg of the career grand slam.

Significant, career-defining achievements, all.

Jason_Dufner_PGA_Championship_Win_

No. 4: Jason Dufner’s PGA Championship Win

The winner of the final major of the year brings up the rear in this ranking. It’s not that the Duf’s hoisting of the almost comically oversized Wanamaker Trophy wasn’t significant for the 36-year-old. Rather, the other wins were narrowly more so.

Dufner’s major could mark a quantum leap forward for the runner-up of the 2011 PGA Championship. However, this remains to be seen, as the dip-packing waggler has only announced himself as one of the Tour’s elite over the past couple of seasons, it’s unclear whether he’ll win as many times on the PGA Tour as Scott (9) or Rose (5), and certainly not as many times as Mickelson (42).

Make no mistake about it, though. Dufner’s  first major win is significant. It is redemptive, and it is validating. The wins of the three golfers who precede him in this list are only more significant as a result of the expectations we have for them.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Mick

    Aug 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Adam Scott was easily the most consistent performer through all the majors and thoroughly deserves the #1 spot

  2. Matt

    Aug 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    placing Phil’s win at #3 means the author has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Between the overwhelming agreement from even Phil himself that his game was questionable to conquiring The Open, and the bounce back from an epic 6th runner-up heart break losing The US Open…..Phil’s final round 66 at the The Open was the moment of the 2013 major season.

  3. Tim

    Aug 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I love Duf and his wife is HOT, but it was an absolute bore to watch him win. He is very introverted. Him and Furyk in the last group was a snooze fest.

  4. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I agree Ben, you got it spot in. Adam Scott’s win was very significant for himself and Australian golf. Justin Rose’s win did the same for him and his country England.

  5. John75402

    Aug 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I’d rank Phil’s Open Championship as first… it was pretty riveting to watch. I would also rank Scott’s Masters as second, because it was such a gutty finish for both him and Cabrera… then the deciding birdie putt was amazing. Justin Rose comes in a close 3rd… He was a rock on a Sunday when everyone else was falling away, and he just kept hitting superb shot after superb shot. The PGA was a very good contest, but the course detracted some… very straight lines, single doglegs… The course was beautiful and well manicured, but kind of repetitive. The quasi match play final group made for great viewing, and Dufner played amazing golf, but it was a little anti-climactic, partially because of how stoic he is.

    All in all, it was a great year of majors and I can’t wait for the Masters to roll back around.

    • MB

      Aug 15, 2013 at 3:45 am

      The UK coverage hardly showed Phil until the 5 or 6 holes when he started his run, and once he finished that was it, tournament over with several groups still to come in. So while I agree it was top class golf from Phil to win on a links course, I wouldn’t describe it as riveting. The way that Scott and Cabrerra birdied 18 in regulation then went at it in the playoff, especially with Scott’s record … now that was riveting. So Scott for me a clear first, then toss up between Phil and Justin. Sorry Duff, you played great golf and totally deserved it but it was by far the least interesting major of the year.

      • John75402

        Aug 16, 2013 at 10:21 am

        Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion…

  6. Nevin Wilson

    Aug 14, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I’d put Phil’s win first.

  7. Henrik

    Aug 14, 2013 at 4:47 am

    It as been a great Majoryear with great tournaments.
    However, Phil deserves more than 3d place…

  8. Mateo

    Aug 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

    And the most exciting tournament of the year was The Players. The only reason I bring it up is because IT SHOULD BE A MAJOR.
    Either have 5 majors or change The Masters to what it always has been……. an invitational. An invitational should not be a major. Augusta gets way too much hype.
    I’m sure I won’t get a single reply on this one. 🙂

    • aaron

      Aug 15, 2013 at 1:22 am

      Agreed….The Players should be a major…I also think there should be more emphasis on more tournaments that arent majors….it sucks that we only have the intensity that comes with the majors 4 times a year within a 4 month period…I think we would like to see more of the major quality fields and excitement from the players

  9. Mateo

    Aug 14, 2013 at 12:36 am

    The best major of the year was BY FAR Phil’s win at the BRITISH Open (hate when people call it “the open”. It’s the British Open).
    I’ll call the rest a 3 way tie. Actually no……… I’d say it’s a tie for second between The Masters and the US Open.
    The PGA was a distant 4th. It felt more like the John Deere Classic than a major.

  10. James

    Aug 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    All of the wins this year were great for their own reasons and relevant to the winners. I’d agree with the article, but certainly think no-one played better (or to a higher standard) than Duffman. His ironsand distance control were especially amazing.

    I thought the course setup at Oak Hill was AWFUL – sure it looked beautiful, and the greens / conditioning etc were lush and groomed to the highest standards, but the course may as well have been the same one played the week before at Firestone.

    No variation in rough, fairway width, approach options etc, just driver/iron over the flag with boring 4 – 6 inch cabbage rough. Lucky the hole numbers were on the broadcast, as almost every Par 4/Par 5 tee box and drive was the same.

    Huge Kudos to Duff though – his was just so solid and holed some great long and short putts under immense pressure whist Furyk and Stenson just kept coming and making amazing pars putts also.

    Woeful course. Amazing Tournament. Great Win.

    PS. I thought that one of Ross’ key design principles was to encourage run-up shots (Pinehurst No. 2(+1+3)?), Seminole, Pine Needles? etc etc.

  11. John

    Aug 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    you got it wrong. phil’s OC was the number one major of the year. close second is scott becoming the first aussie to win at ANGC.

    • aaron

      Aug 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Agreed…5 shots back in a tournament nobody including himself thought he would ever win….bettering the field average by over 7 strokes….birdies on the last 2 holes….no way the best major victory of the year doesnt go to Phil….then Adam then Justin then Dufner

    • ev

      Aug 17, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Easily. I’m really happy for Adam Scott, but his win was #2 behind Phil. Or at least 1b. We’ve assumed for the better part if 2 decades Phil wouldn’t win the British.

  12. paul

    Aug 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Lol. yeah, she’s a babe.

  13. Winmac

    Aug 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    The moment he married Amanda, Jason Duffner is already a winner 😉

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: The best drill in golf (throwing the club)

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If you are struggling with weight shift, clearing your hips, or have issues freeing up your golf swing, then what you want to do is start chucking that golf club. No joke! In this podcast, we will explain how to properly throw the golf club from a safe area and the results will be absolutely transformational.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: A New No. 1 – How Justin Thomas overcame a poor putting performance

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In the final tuneup before the PGA Championship in San Francisco, many of the world’s best teed it up at Memphis’ TPC Southwind in the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. The final day showcased a stacked leaderboard and plenty of volatility, but in the end, it was Justin Thomas who came from four back to win for the third time this year. This was a quick bounceback after a letdown at The Memorial just a few weeks ago. Winning on the PGA Tour certainly takes stellar play and, typically, a little luck like Thomas’ pulled drive on 15 that skirted off a cart path, over a bridge and into prime position for a late birdie. Had that tee ball found the hazard instead, this article would likely be about Brooks Koepka and his late charge.

Golf is a game of misses and taking advantage of good breaks. That is not to take away from JT’s week of stellar ball striking. He finished the week first in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and second in Strokes Gained Approach. That’s no surprise for the new number one in the world. What is surprising is how poorly Thomas putted throughout the week. It is extremely rare for a PGA Tour winner to lose strokes to the field with the putter, but that is exactly what Thomas did.

In Ways to Win, it is rare that we highlight Short Game as a differentiating factor for winners. That is typically because to excel in the short game, one has to miss quite a few greens. When you miss greens, it’s hard to score. However, Justin Thomas was able to consistently get himself out of difficult situations, minimize damage, and turn bogeys into pars throughout his four rounds.

If you want to be an elite player, you can’t do it with your short game alone. It sure comes in handy on those off days, though. Just how good was Thomas’ short game? He finished fourth for the week in Strokes Gained Around the Green and got up and down inside 75 yards more than 80 percent of the time (including several clutch up and downs late on Sunday). His touch was particularly crucial, given that his putter wasn’t really cooperating.

Again, it is very rare for a PGA Tour winner to lose strokes with the flatstick. Typically the winner is the best putter out of the best ball strikers, but not so this week. Thomas only three-putted twice for the week. However, he lost strokes to the field from three out of nine distance buckets that we analyzed using V1 Game’s putting breakdown.

In four other buckets, he was almost “net zero” in strokes gained with the putter. He only gained strokes with the putter from inside six feet. Making short putts is certainly a big key to golfing success. That is why short misses are highlighted in V1 Game’s post-round analysis: missing short putts is a quick way to compound errors. Thomas is not an elite putter by any means, but he is typically solid in the clutch.

V1 Game makes it easy to keep track of personal bests and track progress in a tournament. Any stat that the PGA Tour gives can be recreated with V1 Game. Here are some quick stats for Thomas’ week using V1 Game’s Personal Bests feature:

Total Score: 267
Best Round: 65
Worst Round: 70
Longest Drive: 347 yds
Longest Holeout: 28 ft
Most consecutive holes without a bogey: 24
Scrambling Streak: 9 in a row
Holes without a 3 putt: 20
Most birdies in a round: 6

Thomas certainly played well when it mattered, resisting the urge to look at a scoreboard throughout the final round and focusing on the job at hand. His patience paid off with his 13th victory in a young career. Short game play is a fantastic equalizer and a great tool for any golfer’s bag. However, Thomas really separates himself with ball striking.

The best way to improve your short game is to miss fewer greens, like JT. For most amateurs, short game practice should focus on eliminating mistakes, such as “two-chips” when you do miss the green. Once you can consistently get on the green and have a putt to get up and down, focus should shift to the long game. Tee to Green play is where the game’s best separate themselves from the weekend warriors.

V1 Game can help you with each of these items.

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On Spec

On Spec: Talking Kirkland wedge, LPGA Tour, and teased irons from TaylorMade & Mizuno

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In this episode of On Spec, host Ryan talks about the recently discovered Kirkland Signature wedges on the USGA Conforming list, as well as what recently spotted TaylorMade and Mizuno irons may have in store
Also with the LPGA Tour back in action, Ryan also discussed why it is a good idea to check out how LPGA players gap their bags compared to players on the PGA Tour.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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