Jeremy Ellwood and Fergus Bisset discussed this question in a pre-Covid debate. Have things changed now and what about next year?
Is The USPGA Championship Still The Fourth Most Important Event In Men’s Golf?
says Jeremy Ellwood
In an ever-changing world, it’s good to have some constants, especially when it comes to achievements and accolades in a sport, otherwise it becomes increasingly difficult to retain a meaningful benchmark by which to assess and rank past, present and future achievements.
Things have to evolve, of course, with golf’s four Majors originally considered to be The Open and Amateur Championships either side of the Atlantic in Bobby Jones’ era.
But for the last six decades or so, the four Majors in men’s golf have been set in stone, giving us the means by which to directly compare and evaluate the performances of the finest golfers through several generations.
Many other important tournaments have been vying for our attention, from the advent of the WGC events to the rise in prominence of The Players Championship – purported to boast the strongest field in golf – and the growing strength of the prestigious end-of-season tournaments on both main tours.
Some have thrown their support behind the Australian Open’s claims for Major status, citing a desirability for a more global spread, which is perfectly understandable.
Most recently, the return of golf to the Olympics has got people talking about whether a gold medal in golf should be regarded as the highest accolade, as it is for many other sports.
But let’s not mess with, or dilute, history.
Men’s golf already has its big four by which greatness is judged, and while many of us this side of the Pond would probably regard the USPGA Championship as the lowliest of the quartet, it is, and always should be, regarded as one of the four cornerstones by which we determine greatness, regardless of how strong the claims from other quarters have become.
Is the USPGA Championship still the fourth most important event in men’s golf?
says Fergus Bisset
Thinking on the biggest events in golf, try to recall Open and Masters winners by year.
Most golf fans in this country will be able to go from now, well back into the last century.
Many will also be pretty sharp on recent U.S. Open champs.
But a quick attempt to remember USPGA winners reversing by year is more challenging … Jason Dufner won at some point and Keegan Bradley?
But where and when?
The fact is, the USPGA feels too much like just another PGA Tour event, albeit one with a super-strong field.
There’s nothing to particularly define it and, certainly for players from outside of the U.S, it’s viewed as the fourth “Major.”
This year, (now next year) the Olympics will provide a once in four years chance for players to secure a golfing gold medal for their country.
After watching Justin Rose claim that prize for GB&NI in Rio, many of the top players have targeted the tournament in Japan.
50 years from now, golf’s Olympic champions will be recalled more readily than USPGA champions of equivalent vintage.
And what about the season-long prizes on either side of The Atlantic?
It’s arguable that being crowned FedEx Cup champion is more significant than winning a single PGA Tour event that clings resolutely to its tag of “Major.”
And evidence from the Tour suggests this is now the case.
Last year, Rory McIlroy was named PGA Tour Player of the Year ahead of Brooks Koepka – an award voted for by the players.
Both Rory and Koepka won three times on the 2018-19 circuit.
Koepka was World Number 1 and had won the USPGA Championship.
McIlroy was not a Major winner, but did claim the lucrative FedEx Cup.
The Northern Irishman got the nod from his peers.
The season-long crown out-pointed the USPGA, suggesting the latter is no longer the fourth most important event in men’s golf.