2013 Major Venue Preview

Valentines Day is over and the Masters is just around the corner, or at least we’d all like to pretend it is. Pretty soon the 2013 PGA Tour will be in full swing and while there’s nothing we can do to speed up the passage of time over the next six weeks, let’s take a little bit of our excitement and channel it into some discussion about the upcoming major venues including where they are, the difficulties they present and who might end up taking home the trophy.

The Masters

Bubba at the 2012 Masters (AP).

The Masters (Augusta National) – The Masters is without a doubt the greatest event in the history of golf. For 79 years it’s been held at the same location and every year it seems to get more and more captivating.

Though there tends to be a clutter at the top of leaderboard in this event every year, the cream always seem to rise to the top. Augusta National requires patience, precision and the ability to work the ball in both directions. Look for the usual players at the top of the leaderboard this year. Guys like Tiger, Phil, Rory, Nick Watney and Bubba will all have a shot at the green jacket.

The U.S. Open

Nicklaus and Trevino at Merion in 1971 (AP).

The U.S. Open (Merion Golf Club) – Merion has a rich history in professional golf and this year it will add to its resume when it holds the 112th U.S. Open. Nicklaus, Hogan and Jones are all among past winners on this Pennsylvania course and in past tournaments the “hall of famers” have come out on top.

Merion isn’t overly long like most U.S. Open venues but it requires an unrivaled degree of strategy and course management. Jack Nicklaus once said, “Acre for acre, it may be the best test in the history of golf.” Look for the players that can keep it in the fairway and grind out even par rounds to be in contention here. If Tiger sticks with fairway woods off the tee, he’ll have a shot.

The British Open

Rory McIlroy dealing with some bad weather at the British Open.

The British Open (Muirfield) – The 142nd Open Championship will be held deep within the rolling hills of Scotland at Muirfield, and much like every other year, the difficulty of this venue will rest solely on the weather.

In general, the players that have won at this site in the past have all been relatively good ball strikers. Past champions include Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino. Look for a similar trend this year. Guys like Padraig, Tiger, Adam Scott and Ernie should all have a good shot at the Claret Jug.

PGA Championship

Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship (www.pga.com).

PGA Championship (Oak Hill Country Club) – Oak Hill CC is the only golf course in the world to have hosted a U.S. Open, a PGA Championship, a Ryder Cup and a U.S. Amateur. Ernie Els once said, “It’s the best, fairest and toughest championship course I’ve ever played in all my years as a tour professional.”

This year will likely be no different. Though it doesn’t boast beastly length, the course record is only 6 under par (Ben Hogan). The rough will likely be kept pretty high and this year’s tournament might play out more like a U.S. Open than a PGA Championship.

Every year someone new seems to take home the Wanamaker Trophy and it really will be anyone’s game come August.

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