Which Players Have Had the Best of the Majors This Year?
September 15, 2017
This years’ golf season has been a thrilling one, with each of the majors providing drama, intrigue and a different winner to wow fans across the globe.
From Sergio Garcia’s maiden Slam win at the U.S. Masters to Justin Spieth’s incredible performance on the back-nine at Royal Birkdale, records have tumbled while a group of extremely talented and evenly-matched players have vied for the sport’s most coveted honours. So while the sport may lack a dominant performer in the mould of Tiger Woods, it is currently thriving amid fiercely contested tournaments and unparalleled unpredictability.
With this in mind, the question that remains is which players have had the best of this years’ majors? Let’s take a look:
The Slam Winners: Who Have won the Majors?
Four majors have produced four different winners in 2017, with three of them claiming their first Grand Slam titles during the last 12 months. Sergio Garcia (the U.S. Masters), Brooks Koepka (U.S. Open) and Justin Thomas (the USPGA Championship) all achieved this career-defining honour this year, with the former doing so at the 73rd time of asking. Koepka demolished the favourable Erin Hills course to match the lowest ever score at the U.S. Open when finishing 16 under-par, while Thomas held his nerve in a final round that could have seen any one of six competitors prevail.
The only seasoned winner in 2017 was the exceptional Jordan Spieth, who became only the second player in history (after Jack Nicklaus) to win three of the four majors before his 24th birthday at the British Open in July. Despite producing a stunning performance on the back-nine at Royal Birkdale and being widely tipped to make history and become the youngest ever player to complete the career slam at the PGA Championship, however, Spieth struggled to compete and never looked like challenging Thomas for a serious tilt at the title.
This was a trend that ran throughout the season, highlighting the incredibly competitive and deep pool of players that exist in the men’s game in 2017. None of this years’ major winners really looked like adding to their hauls at any of the other slams in which they competed, although Koepka did claim a top-10 finish at Royal Birkdale and Thomas also came 10th at the U.S. Open earlier in the year. Spieth also tied for fourth at Augusta, although the enigmatic Garcia has struggled for form ever since his monumental U.S. Masters win back in April.
Which Other Players Managed to Impress Without Winning?
The competitive nature of the modern field is also reflected by the performers of other players, who acquitted themselves well at certain slams despite not being able to lift a major title. Take the world number three Hideki Matsuyama, who recovered from a disappointing performance in the Masters to finish joint-second with Brian Harman in the U.S. Open two months later. He played superbly at Erin Hills, where even a par final round could not prevent him from finishing 12 under-par and pushing Koepka right until the end.
He was also one of the six players to contend for the PGA Championship during the final round, ultimately tying for fifth with a respectable five under-par. A second round 64 was the highlight for Matsuyama, whose final round struggles once again meant that he fell just short of claiming a richly-deserved and surely imminent first major.
World number 13 Matt Kuchar may also feel unlucky not to have claimed a major this year, particularly after pushing Spieth so close at the British Open. Were it not for Spieth’s incredible run during the last five holes (which included an eagle at the 15 and marked a phenomenal comeback given his tumultuous bogey at the 13th), Kuchar would have undoubtedly won the title and can ultimately be proud of finishing second with a score of -9. Kuchar also tied for ninth at the PGA Championship, so he has certainly show his pedigree throughout 2017.
There should also be a special mention for Ricky Fowler, who shone at this years’ majors despite not claiming a title. The world number 10 started the year well with a third place finish at the Masters, finishing -5 and just a shot behind the play-off pair of Thomas and Justin Rose. He then tied for 5th on -10 during an exceptionally low scoring U.S. Open, before closing this year with a fifth place finish in the PGA Championship. Fowler was another who had a chance of winning in North Carolina, but he can certainly make an argument for being the most consistent player at this years’ majors.
Falling Short: Who has Disappointed at this years’ majors?
While some players may have excelled this year, others have struggled in an increasingly competitive environment. Rory McIlory is one such performer, as despite tying for fourth with Rafa Cabrera Bello at the British Open (the Ulsterman managed to finish on -5), he failed to record another top-10 finish at any other major. It is now three years since he last won a major, with the world number four unable to replicate his consistent tour performances on the biggest and grandest of stages.
World number one Dustin Johnson is another who has underperformed, although he was unable to compete in the Masters having injured his back the day before the event. He was one of several elite names (including Rory McIlroy) to miss the cut at the U.S. Open, which will have been hugely disappointing given that he was the defending champion. He also underwhelmed at Royal Birkdale and during the PGA Championship, although he has maintained his number one ranking by the virtue of consistent tour performances.
Which Players have Performed Most Consistently at Majors this year?
Ultimately, all four of this years’ major winners will look back on 2017 with immense satisfaction. Spieth, Koepka and Thomas can also point to the superior consistency that they showcased at these events, while Fowler, Matsuyama and the unlucky Kuchar have also performed exceptionally well at Grand Slams without being able to achieve their ultimate objectives.
Only time will tell whether these players can sustain their form next season, or if McIlroy and Johnson can reclaim their place at the top table of international golf. One thing that we can rely on is that next years’ majors will be even more keenly-contested, with a field of 15 to 20 players capable of winning Grand Slam tournaments.
Whoever you fancy, be sure to check out some of our recommended up-and-coming UK bookmakers to compare the best odds before putting down any wagers.