The Fourth And Final Major Of 2018
The 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie proved a huge success on a course that didn’t favour any particular type of player but punished those that were inconsistent or failed to respect its designer’s strategic bunkering.
In the end, it was Francesco Molinari that lifted the Claret Jug, a just reward for his excellent tee-to-green abilities and the time he’s spent improving his formerly suspect putting. Molinari deserves plenty of credit too, as he came from three shots behind on the final day to win by two. Admittedly, he was helped by over-par rounds by Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, and Kevin Kisner, but he didn’t lose his nerve even when his playing partner, the resurgent Tiger Woods, took the lead on the front-nine.
Molinari is a best-priced 25/1 to win a second consecutive major in August’s, when the PGA championship takes place at Bellerive Country Club in St Louis. Like Carnoustie, Bellerive Country Club has plenty of history and has hosted several major championships and senior major championships.
As well as taking a look at the season’s fourth and final major of 2018, we’ll also be taking a look back at some more of July’s action on the European Tour and PGA Tour, as well as a look at the other tournaments that will be taking place in August.
July’s European Tour Round-up
The European Tour’s innovation to host the Irish Open and the Scottish Open in the two weeks prior to the Open Championship again proved a huge success, as both events attracted top stars from around the world that were delighted to get some practice in on links courses prior to the season’s third major. However, those big names fell short as Russell Knox won the Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club with two outrageous putts on the eighteenth hole, one that got him into a play-off and one that won him the title.
Meanwhile, Brandon Stone played a level of golf in the final round of the Scottish Open that most players can only dream of. A 10-under-par final round of 60 was agonisingly close to a first ever 59 for Stone, who missed a putt of around eight-feet on the last to create history. However, a cheque for over a million Euros and some big world ranking points should have eased his pain.
July’s PGA Tour Round-Up
Kevin Na, who doesn’t find winning easy, was another player that found a sublime final round in July to win the A Military Tribute at the Greenbriar Tournament. Michael Kim then broke his PGA tour duck in some style as the 26-year-old won the John Deere Classic by eight-shots from that man Molinari. It earned him a place in the Open Championship, where he wasn’t disgraced in finishing nine-shots behind Molinari after only booking his place at the final hurdle. Meanwhile, Troy Merritt may not have been in the Open Championship, but he improved his chances of playing in next season’s majors with a win in the Barbasol Championship.
European Tour Events In August
Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways (August 2 – 5)
The Fiji International takes place at Natadola Bay Golf Club and the 2018 renewal will be the fifth time the event has been staged. In 2014 and 2015 it was co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour, but became part of the European Tour in 2016. The four winners of the tournaments so far are Stephen Jeffress, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, and Jason Norris.
Nordea Masters (August 16 – 19)
The 2018 Nordea Masters takes place at the Hills Golf Club in Gothenburg in Sweden. The event was first played in 1991 as the Scandinavian Masters and, due to sponsorship, has been known under several different names before becoming the Nordea Masters in 2011. Since then it has been won by Alex Noren (twice), Lee Westwood, Mikko Illonen, Thongchai Jaidee, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Renato Paratore.
D+D Real Czech Masters (August 23 – 26)
The 2018 D+D Czech Masters will again take place at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague, where it has been staged since the inaugural event in 2014. So far, it has been won by Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Pieters, Paul Peterson, and Haydn Porteous.
PGA Tour Events In August
World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational (August 2-5)
The WGC Bridgestone at Firestone Golf Club invites only the top players in the world and was established in 1999. Tiger Woods has won eight of the 20 renewals, with his last victory coming in 2013. Since then, it has been won by Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Dustin Johnson, and Hideki Matsuyama. The course tests all facets of a player’s game, rewarding long accurate hitting, and those that have the short game skills to recover from their mistakes. Therefore, it’s no surprise that most winners have been able to hit in 300+ yards off the tee. Expect the big-hitters to prosper once more.
Barracuda Championship (August 2-5)
The Barracuda Championship is an alternative event open to those PGA players that don’t qualify for the WGC Bridgestone. It was also established in 1999 but was changed from a regulation tour event to a modified stableford competition in 2012. The rules favour those that successfully adopt an attacking strategy, with points for eagles and birdies far outweighing the penalties for bogeys and double-bogeys. Since 2012, it has been won by JJ Henry (twice), Gary Woodland, Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, and Chris Stroud.
Wyndham Championship (August 16-19)
The Wyndham Championship is a long-established event that dates back to 1938. It has been held at a variety of venues in that time but has been held at its current home of Sedgefield Country Club since 2008. There have been some big-name winners in that time, including Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, and Sergio Garcia. However, not all winners have been easy to find, with the likes of Arjun Atwal and Si Woo Kim also on the scoresheet. Meanwhile, Davis Love III defied his years to win the 2015 renewal, though that was his third victory in the event.
The Northern Trust (August 23 – 26)
The Northern Trust signifies the start of the Fedex Cup play-offs, and it is the first of the four tournaments that will decide which player will win the Fedex Cup and the absurdly huge cheque that goes with it. The tournament swaps venues regularly, but will be played this year at Ridgewood Country Club, where it was previously held in 2008, 2010, and 2014. The winners on those occasions were Vijay Singh, Matt Kuchar, and Hunter Mahan.
The PGA Championship
Of course, the biggest event in August for all players is the PGA Championship (August 9 – 12), with the 2018 PGA Championship taking place at Bellerive Golf Club. The club dates back to 1897, but a new course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened in 1960. It was known as the Green Monster of Ladue. The course made an almost instant impression, hosting the US Open just five years later in 1965, an event won by Gary Player. The course also staged the 1992 PGA Championship that was won by Nick Price, and the 2004 US Senior Open which was won by Peter Jacobsen. The course then underwent a renovation under the watchful eye of Rees Jones in order to bring it up to the standards required to host a modern major tournament. In 2013, it hosted the Senior PGA Championship and, in doing so, became the first course to host the US Senior PGA, Senior US Open, US Open, and US PGA. The course was then picked to host the 2018 PGA Championship – which will be the 100th PGA Championship.
Quite who will lift the Wannamaker Trophy at this historic venue is anyone’s guess but, such is the competitiveness of world golf at the moment, the bookies look sure to be offering tempting odds about a number of players.
Players To Watch In August
A Major Championship, a WGC, and chances to catch the eye of Ryder Cup Captains Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk will be big motivations for some players in August.
Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Alex Noren, and Paul Casey look almost certain to make the European Ryder Cup team, but that leaves lots of players fighting it out for just four spots. The likes of Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Knox, Eddie Pepperrell, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters, Ian Poulter, and Alexy Levy will all be hoping to impress this month, so expect at least a few of them to find some form in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the likes of Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Brian Harman, and Zach Johnson will all be hoping for big performances at the WGC Bridgestone or the US PGA Championship as they look to gate-crash the Ryder Cup Party alongside the likes of Koepka, Johnson, Reed, Thomas, Watson, Spieth, Simpson and Fowler.