Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Will Rory McIlroy finally complete his career grand slam at The Masters? Could Jordan Spieth complete his at the PGA? All eyes will be on the majors in 2020. Here’s our guide to the venues set to host golf’s biggest tournaments.
The Masters: April 9-12 | Defending Champion: Tiger Woods | $2,070,000
Augusta National: 7,435 yards | Par 72
As the only major to be played at the same course each year, The Masters will once again return to Augusta National in Georgia in 2020 when Tiger Woods will attempt to defend his Green Jacket. Since the first tournament in 1934, the original Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones design has undergone many changes. In recent years, respected architect Tom Fazio has worked on all but four of the holes, notably pushing the tee back 40 yards on the already difficult fifth.
The layout at Augusta – ranked the 3rd best course in the world by All Square – is routed around its colonial clubhouse; the two nines looping out and back from the highest point on the property. The outward holes are tight with unforgiving greens, while the back nine has watery hazards on each of the par threes and fives. The 11th, 12th and 13th holes of Amen Corner are perhaps the most celebrated consecutive holes in golf, while the reachable par-five 15th, par-three 16th and uphill 18th have extracted great theatre down the years beneath the beautiful Georgia pines.
Victory for Rory McIlroy would complete his career grand slam of winning all four majors, and would finally exorcise the ghost of 2011 when he let slip a four-shot lead on the final day with a disastrous 80.
PGA Championship: May 14-17 | Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka | $1,980,000
TPC Harding Park: 7,169 yards | Par 72
The TPC Harding Park in San Francisco has staged two WGC events and a Presidents Cup, but this will be the first time a major will visit the grounds. The course opened in 1925 and is named after President Warren G. Harding, a keen golfer who died in office while visiting the city. After hosting many PGA Tour events, by the 1950s it had fallen into decline before a publicly-funded campaign resurrected the facility to the tune of $16 million in 2003. The course became the 32nd to join the TPC network in 2010.
The venue is framed on three sides by Lake Merced and is routed across sandy ground making it reminiscent of a classic links. Tall cyprus trees line most holes making the fairways seem narrow, and tight greens make posting a low score difficult. A dramatic closing stretch along the cliffs overlooking the lake begins at the par-four 15th, continues at the short par-four 16th, through the par-three 17th before ending at the venue’s signature hole, the dogleg par-four 18th.
It’s the only major to elude Jordan Spieth, so a win here would see the Texan complete his career grand slam.
US Open: June 18-21 | Defending Champion: Gary Woodland | $2,250,000
Winged Foot – West Course: 7,264 yards | Par 72
The US Open returns to Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York for the 120th playing of the event. The course opened 1923 and hosted the 1929 US Open, won by Bobby Jones, and the 1997 PGA Championship. It was at Winged Foot where Phil Mickelson had his most memorable runner-up US Open finish in 2006 when he led Geoff Ogilvy by one at the 18th tee before a disastrous double-bogey finish.
Ranked as the 25th best course in the world by All Square, renovations were undertaken by Gil Hanse in 2016-17 to get it ready for the 2020 event. Scoring is difficult on this bruiser of a course where the greens look like giant mushrooms, curling downwards around the edges. The closing six holes will likely dictate who the winner will be. The 13th is a 214-yard par three, and is followed by six par fours, all measuring in excess of 400 yards.
It’ll be a return to the scene of the crime for Mickelson who needs this title to complete his career slam of majors, after coming so close in the past with six runner-up finishes.
The Open: July 16-19 | Defending Champion: Shane Lowry | $1,935,000
Royal Saint George’s Golf Club: 7,204 yards | Par 70
The 149th Open Championship will head for the 15th time to Royal St. George’s in Kent, England. Only Muirfield (16), Prestwick (24) and St Andrews (29) have hosted the tournament on more occasions. The last Open here was in 2011 when Northern Irishman Darren Clarke claimed the Claret Jug to become Champion Golfer of the Year. This classic links course, ranked as the 23rd best in the world by All Square, is a truly monumental challenge with undulating fairways, steep dunes and deep bunkering – particularly at the 4th, said to be the highest bunker in England.
Despite a par of just 70, and only one par four under 400 yards, success here is still less about power than it is about accuracy off the tee and shrewd golf, and the ability to deal with the odd rogue bounce or hilly lie. The par-three 17thhas often been the scene of drama and was made notorious by Denmark‘s Thomas Bjorn’s in 2003 when he took three shots to get out of the bunker before finishing runner-up to American Ben Curtis.