Winning two major championships in the same season is no easy feat
Of all the major-championship accomplishments in golf’s history, winning a PGA Championship alongside another major in the same year seems to be “the easiest” based on data – but don’t tell the best golfers in the world that.
In the event’s history, 15 times a golfer has won the PGA Championship plus another major in the same season. It happened in 1922, 1924, and 1926 – the first three times the feat was accomplished. Plus, again, in 2006, 2008, 2014, and 2018 – four out of the five most recent times a golfer double-dipped at majors in the same year.
But for those who won the major prior to the PGA Championship and then the PGA itself, that number is much tighter.
Starting with Tiger Woods – because most records in golf do – he won the Open Championship and the PGA Championship in 2006, and in 2000 he, of course, famously won three majors in the same year. Three in a row, in fact.
Rory McIlroy did it in 2014, backing up his Open Championship triumph at Royal Liverpool with his second PGA Championship title. McIlroy, however, hasn’t won a major since then – a streak he’s hoping to break this week at the Ocean Course.
Padraig Harrington did the same thing, winning both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship in 2008, same with Nick Price in 1994 – but that’s been it.
Ben Hogan did win two majors in 1948, including the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open, but he skipped The Open Championship that year – as he did most of his career except for 1953 (when he went and won).
It’s been partially difficult to capture both the PGA Championship and the major prior given how different the setups have been in the past.
For a number of years, the PGA Championship followed The Open Championship on the PGA Tour’s schedule – which, of course, meant golfers would tee it up at a linksy layout in the United Kingdom prior to returning to the United States – and more recently it’s been played following the Masters.
With the PGA Championship pivoting venues every year it’s rare a golfer can get fully adjusted to all of the necessary quirks, tricks and local knowledge one needs like they acquire returning to Augusta National year after year.
Sometimes, though, golfers just go on unbeatable runs.
Brooks Koepka, who won both the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships, has found a different gear in the majors the last few seasons. In 2019, for example, he finished T2-1-2-T4. The year prior he won both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship in 2017, missed the cut at The Open, but notched a top 10 at the U.S. Open.
With golf being the most unpredictable of games, there’s Jimmy Walker, who won the 2016 PGA Championship having missed the cut at three of the four prior majors to his victory – including two early exits in a row.
In 2020, a year unlike any other, the PGA Championship was actually the first major championship contested. Shane Lowry was looking to win The Open and the PGA Championship in back-to-back majors but ended up finishing tied for 66th at TPC Harding Park.
This week at the Ocean Course it’s Hideki Matsuyama who is looking to back up his Masters triumph with another major victory.
Matsuyama returned to Japan after his Green Jacket victory and had a memorable time, being awarded with the Prime Minister’s Award in his home country. He teed it up on the PGA Tour last week in Texas as a warm-up to this week and finished tied for 39th. On Tuesday Matsuyama admitted he didn’t do much while in a two-week quarantine in Japan.
“Still trying to find my game,” he said, “but hopefully this will be a good week for me.”
Matsuyama was able to make history at the Masters, becoming the first Japanese male golfer to win a major. This week he’ll try to add his name to even more history and win two majors in a row – easier said than done.