News & Opinion

Which of golf's 2020 majors produced the best storyline?

Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson 2020 major champions
PGA champion Collin Morikawa (left) and Masters winner Dustin Johnson provided 2 of the best major-championship storylines of the year. Which was better? Hawk & Purk hash it out.

John Hawkins picks Collin Morikawa’s weekend charge at the PGA, but Mike Purkey favors Dustin Johnson’s record run at the Masters

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

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

Which of the three major championships played in 2020 supplied the best storyline?

Hawk’s take: The combination of Who + How makes this one a no-brainer. Collin Morikawa’s drive to 7 feet and subsequent eagle at the par-4 16th Sunday was unquestionably the shot of the year, but he also chipped in for a birdie at Harding Park’s 14th and went 65-64 on the weekend to finish atop a star-stacked leaderboard at the PGA Championship. When a 23-year-old kid joins Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the youngest winners in tournament history – by closing with the lowest 36-hole total ever at a PGA and all those late fireworks – few elite gatherings in any recent year are worthy of comparison.

More than Morikawa’s heroics, Harding Park’s debut as a major-championship host doubled as the first of golf’s Big Four to be held in the coronavirus era. After 14 majorless months and a three-month suspension of the season altogether, the 102nd PGA served up oversized portions of all we missed about the game. Suspense. Surprise. Brilliance in the clutch.

The U.S. Open and Masters both produced blowouts, courtesy of the two best players in 2020. Though Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson proved dominant on their marches to victory, neither tournament exactly concluded with a bang. Golf’s most vivid memories usually come from a homestretch for the ages. This year’s PGA was punctuated by exclamation points galore.

Purk’s take: In the spring of 2017, Dustin Johnson was playing the best golf of anyone in the world, which more than justified his No. 1 ranking. Quite naturally, he was the favorite to win the Masters that year. But a slip-and-fall on some stairs at the house he was renting injured his back, and he was forced to withdraw without hitting a shot in competition.

Three-and-a-half years later, Johnson found himself in the same situation: No. 1 in the world, and no one was playing better golf than he was. This time, the Coronavirus Masters was in November, and the joke was that Johnson rented a house on one level, with no stairs.

Until 2020, Johnson was as cursed and star-crossed at majors as anyone since Greg Norman. He had won only one major title, the 2016 U.S. Open, but would have had four more if majors were only 54 holes, including this year’s PGA Championship at Harding Park in August, where he led after three rounds.

But with a record-setting 72-hole total of 20 under par at Augusta National, Johnson finally earned a green jacket that had been tailor-made for him for years. In many ways, nothing is sweeter than redemption, and two major titles are way more than twice as good as one.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.