News & Opinion

So many majors, so little time

Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy
Who’s the most likely player to bag multiple titles among the 7 major championships to be played in the next 12 months? John Hawkins likes Justin Thomas (left), and Mike Purkey favors Rory McIlroy.

One upside of the recent 3-month shuttering of the PGA Tour season has been an abundance of big events packed into the next 12 months. Hawk & Purk debate the likely candidates to pick off 2 or more of golf’s crown jewels

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Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

Seven major championships will be contested over the next 12 months. Who has the best chance of winning more than one of them?

Hawk’s take: My thought process on the matter is quite simple: Scratch the two legends (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson) from consideration. Their tanks are full.

Two guys (Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka) already have accomplished this daunting task in the past five years. Koepka has done it twice. These days, you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that Spieth did it once. Both are dismissed because the mathematician says so.

Adios to anyone who doesn’t already have a major title. Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele. . . . All are very nice players, and Schauffele has four top-fives at the biggies dating to the 2017 U.S. Open. That said, his only full-field victory on the PGA Tour came at the Greenbrier Classic that same year. Enough said.

A lot of guys with one major got there by accident. Danny Willett comes to mind. Webb Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open because Jim Furyk lost it. Jason Day looks pretty content as a one-hit wonder. Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose are running out of time, but then again, aren’t we all?

Patrick Reed? The golf gods just can’t be that cruel.

Collin Morikawa? Not yet.

That leaves me with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, who happen to be ranked first and third, respectively, in the world. Thomas just blew a three-stroke lead with three holes to play in Ohio, so pardon my lack of confidence. McIlroy has won four major titles, none of them in the past six years. He’s so overdue that if you brought him back to the library, they’d charge you $100 in late fees.

Nobody on earth drives it better. Nobody on earth gets hotter with the putter. McIlroy’s my guy. You were expecting Darius Van Driel?

Purk’s take: This is a tough question. The talent pool in worldwide golf is deeper than ever. More players are capable of winning majors, even those outside the list of usual suspects. There very well could be seven different winners of the next seven major championships.

So, if you think I’m sitting here trying to dodge the question, you’d be right. OK, close my eyes and point and I choose: Justin Thomas. He has one major on his resume, and nearly everyone believes he should have more by now. But he’s only 27, which suddenly seems old for some reason, and he has plenty of time.

Thomas is a five-tool player: he has length off the tee, is a great iron player, tidy short game and is mentally tough enough. The fifth tool – putting – is not his best attribute, but it’s good enough when paired with his ball-striking to win majors. So, there’s my pick.

However, I could have landed on Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm or even Bryson DeChambeau and would say virtually the same thing about their chances to win more than one major over the next 12 months. Any of them would be a good choice.

But I summoned the courage of my convictions and picked Thomas, who is absolutely a lock to win multiple majors.

I think.

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