2014 Grades for Golf's Top Stars After 3 Majors
Believe it or not, three of golf's major championships have been contested with only the PGA Championship left on the schedule.
Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy are the champions thus far, leaving golf's other top stars wanting.
Grading those top stars based on their performances in the three majors was an interesting endeavor.
There were a few A's, a few D's and scattered B's and C's.
Check out the list of how 10 of golf's top stars graded out.
Results: Masters—T8; U.S. Open—T23; British Open—1.
Overall Performance: A top-10 finish in any major is a good thing, and McIlroy had a good tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Except, of course, for the third-round 77 that took him out of the tournament and sent him on the way to an even-par finish.
At Pinehurst No. 2 in June, McIlroy wasn't on his game on a layout that seemed to be suited to his style of play. With his length and the roomy fairways, it was expected he'd be a serious contender. But after opening rounds of 71-68, McIlroy closed with 73-71.
His wire-to-wire performance at Royal Liverpool, with all four rounds in the 60s, was exemplary. McIlroy re-established himself as a premier player and figures to get the career grand slam before Phil Mickelson.
Grade: A. A win and a T8 in three major championships is pretty good.
Results: Masters—T5; U.S. Open—T2; British Open—T2.
Overall performance: About the only thing Rickie Fowler could have done better in the year's first three major championships was to win one. The young man had been high on flash but low on results since turning pro in 2009, but deciding to take instruction from Butch Harmon last December has made a major difference in his career.
This year, six of his 13 major championship rounds have been in the 60s. If he could have posted one of those instead of the 75 he put up in the third round of the Masters, things might have been a lot different for him on Sunday.
He played very well in both Opens. He came to Sunday afternoon at Pinehurst three-under par but could do no better than a 72 and didn't push runaway winner Martin Kaymer.
Fowler put up four rounds in the 60s at Royal Liverpool and pushed eventual winner Rory McIlroy big time. He was actually tied early on the back nine Sunday, but McIlroy hit an extra gear and took control again.
Results: Masters—T8; U.S. Open—T21; British Open—T23.
Overall Performance: The 2013 U.S. Open champion has three top-25 finishes in the majors this year, a nice follow-up to his thrilling victory at Merion a year ago. He played two good rounds at the Masters, shooting 70-69 in the second and third rounds. He got off to a lousy start, shooting a 76, and didn't finish very well either, getting a 74.
On a difficult layout like Pinehurst No. 2, Rose finished a respectable three-over par. He couldn't get anything going in the opening and closing rounds, posting two-over par 72s on both days. But considering only three players: Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, finished under par, Rose put in a commendable performance.
In the Open Championship, Rose once again bookmarked a pair of 72s around a 70 and a 69, which left him at five-under par. Nice playing, but not at the level of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia.
Results: Masters—T2; U.S. Open—T17; British Open—T36
Overall performance: The considerable hype that followed Jordan Spieth to the 2014 season seemed to be right on point when the youngster battled Bubba Watson halfway through the fourth round of the Masters and settled tied for second. He hung in with Martin Kaymer at the Players Championship, too, faltering in the final round with a 74.
He found himself one-under par at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 after 36 holes but couldn't make anything happen on the weekend and shot 72-73. It's another top-20 finish in a major, but he was never in the hunt.
His week at Royal Liverpool wasn't much to speak of. A second-round 75 derailed any run at the title, even after he shot 67 in the third round. Spieth finished T36, his second-worst finish of the year. He obviously needs to learn how to finish off tournaments in which he has control.
Results: Masters—T31; U.S. Open—1; British Open—70.
Overall performance: The way Martin Kaymer won the Players Championship and U.S. Open made it seem like he might never lose in golf's biggest events. Wire-to-wire, dominating performances made him the hottest golfer on the planet coming into the British Open.
After a disappointing, opening-round 75 in the Masters, he settled down to post rounds of 72-73-73 at Augusta National.
He left no doubt about his intentions at Pinehurst No. 2. Kaymer went 65-65 on a course that was supposed to be much tougher than that and never looked back.
In the British Open, his name was hardly mentioned. After rounds of 73-72-72, he was well out of the race on Sunday and played like it, shooting a nine-over-par 79.
Results: Masters—T8; U.S. Open—T9; British Open—T26.
Overall performance: Jimmy Walker won his first three tournaments on the PGA Tour early in the tour's wrap-around season, and it wouldn't have surprised many fans if he had disappeared after that. But the 35-year-old hasn't skipped a beat and has had a career year.
A pair of 70s and a 72 represented good work for Walker in his first Masters appearance. The third-round stumble that led to a 76 took him out of serious contention.
At Pinehurst, Walker was very consistent in only his second U.S. Open start. He played U.S. Open golf, hanging in the vicinity of par. Unfortunately Martin Kaymer didn't get that memo and left the field in his dust.
Walker's first experience in the British Open, finishing four-under par at Royal Liverpool, was a good one. He teed it up Sunday morning tied for 12th and hoped to continue his string of top-10 finishes in majors but stumbled home to a 73.
Results: Masters—MC; U.S. Open—T35; British Open—T2.
Overall performance: Since the 1999 PGA Championship and the shot around the tree and the scissors kick jump and his chase of Tiger Woods, Garcia has shown glimpses of the greatness within him, but too many times in the majors, he's been a dud. After the British Open, he is 0 of 64 in majors.
He was dreadful in the Masters, putting up rounds of 74-75 and driving down Magnolia Lane on Friday evening.
At Pinehurst No. 2, he didn't break par in a single round and finished at eight-over par.
And then came Royal Liverpool. He opened with rounds of 68 and 70, which turned out to be just warmed up for weekend rounds of 69 and 66. He was on Rory McIlroy's tail all afternoon and things could have been different had he not left a green-side bunker shot in the bunker on 13. He settled for a T2.
Results: Masters—T5; U.S. Open—T12; British Open—T54.
Overall performance: Matt Kuchar has one third-place finish in 36 starts in major championships, and he's done nothing to improve on that statistic thus far in the three majors in 2014.
Kuchar seemed like he might change that at Augusta National when he fired a 68 in the third round to sit at four-under par going into Sunday. But those tricky and evil greens proved to be his undoing on Sunday, as he shot 74 and fell to a tie for fifth.
Kuchar wasn't much more than a fringe player in the U.S. Open, never seriously threatening the lead, although in reality, nobody did. He struggled to a 73 on Sunday and finished at three-over par.
A first-round 73 doomed Kuchar at Royal Liverpool, and he broke par only once in the final three rounds. He still remains the best player to have not won a major.
Results: Masters—1; U.S. Open—MC; British Open—MC.
Overall performance: Bubba Watson has become a one-trick pony. He's won two Masters, 2012 and 2014, and has done little else in golf's four biggest events.
This year, he blistered Augusta National with rounds of 69, 68, 69 and was mediocre in the third round, shooting a 74. He held off Jordan Spieth on the front nine and then cruised to the win.
His other two major starts were 76-70 and 76-72. Watson walked away from Pinehurst No. 2 and moaned about how he needed to be mentally stronger. Obviously, he didn't get much accomplished between then and this past week at Royal Liverpool.
Results: Masters—MC; U.S. Open—T4; British Open—T12.
Overall performance: Dustin Johnson has a history, unfortunately a bad history, in the final rounds of major championship. Three times he's had a chance to win major titles and three times he's blown those chances.
Johnson missed the cut in the Masters, posting rounds of 77-74 and was never relevant.
At the U.S. Open, he opened with 69-69 and entered Sunday's final round at even par. Like everyone else in the field, Johnson had no chance against Martin Kaymer's onslaught. His tie for fourth sounds good, but his 73 left him at one-over par.
He was much more of a factor in the British Open, thanks in large part to a second-round 65. He fell away from the leaders late on the front nine on Saturday and went on to finish 70-73.