With The Memorial coming up this week, I started thinking about the great events on the PGA Tour schedule each year that aren't considered major championships. The four majors are of course The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship. These four tournaments are obviously the best and most important each year and for great reason. The following is a list of events I feel are just a small step behind the major championships but still very special to all the PGA Tour players. There is only room for five, so some great tournaments missed the cut including the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Mercedes Championship, Bank of America Colonial, and the upstart Wachovia Championship.
Also not making the list are the World Golf Championship events. There are other PGA Tour events taking place the same weeks as these events, so they don't qualify for the Trap Five. And if you have anything to add to the list, feel free to comment below or discuss it in our forum. Ok, onto the list!
Number Five: Bay Hill Invitational
The Bay Hill Invitational barely edged out the Pebble Beach Pro-Am to slide into the number five slot on the list. It is known as Arnie's tournament, and a very strong field shows up to play it every year. The field usually includes most of the top fifty golfers in the world, and the players face a tough test of golf along the way. The Bay Hill Invitational is held at the beautiful Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida. Tiger Woods has had his fair share of great memories in this event, winning it four straight years from 2000-2003. Other notable golfers who have won the event include Tom Kite (twice), Fred Couples (1992), Phil Mickelson (1997), and Ernie Els (1998). Earlier this year, Kenny Perry held off a surging Vijay Singh to claim his first Bay Hill Invitational title.
Number Four: Byron Nelson Championship
This tournament is not only known as Byron Nelson's tournament, it is also the only PGA Tour event named after a golfing legend. Nelson holds many great PGA Tour records and is looked at as one of the best golfers in the history of the game. This great event is held at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. This tournament usually has most of the top players in the world rankings, and this year was no different. Every golfer ranked in the top five was present. This is also the site where Tiger Woods' consecutive cut streak came to an end. With that being said, the winner's list in the Byron Nelson Championship speaks for itself. Past winners include Byron Nelson himself (1944), Ben Hogan (1946), Sam Snead (145, 1957, 1958), Jack Nicklaus (1970 and 1971), and Tom Watson (1975, 1978, 1979, 1980). Some recent winners include Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, and Vijay Singh.
Number Three: The Memorial Tournament
Jack Nicklaus is often referred to as the greatest golfer of all time. The Memorial is held every year around Memorial Day and is Jack's tournament. It is held in The Golden Bear's home state of Ohio at the wonderful Muirfield Village Golf Club. The field is always strong and usually boasts most of the top golfers in the world. If some players weren't going through their U.S. Open preparation, the field would even be better. The Memorial has been held since 1976 and the list of past winners is like a "who's who" of golf. Jack Nicklaus won his own tournament twice (1977 and 1984). Other past winners that have won the event twice include Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, and Kenny Perry. Tiger Woods won the event three years in a row from 1999-2001. Ernie Els, who won the event last year, and Vijay Singh have also won Jack's tournament.
Number Two: The Tour Championship
The Tour Championship is the first tournament on the list that isn't really hosted by a golfing legend. It also isn't played at the same golf course each year like the previous three. Each year, golfers battle it out all year long to win golf tournaments and finish in the top 30 on the money list on the PGA Tour. The reward for finishing in the top 30 on the money list is a spot in the Tour Championship, the last official event of the PGA Tour season. The prize money is excellent and the competition is just about as good as it gets. This is also the last opportunity the players get to battle it out for the money title, scoring title, player of the year award, etc. The Tour Championship has only been played since 1991, but the winner's list is still fabulous. Past winners include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and Retief Goosen (last year's champ).
Number One: The Players Championship
The Players Championship is often referred to as the fifth major each year. If golfers don't win a major championship in their career, this is the tournament to win. This is usually the first tournament each year where the top 50 golfers in the world all show up to do battle with one another. The Players Championship takes place at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The 17th hole at Sawgrass usually gets as much attention as the players do for this tournament. It is one of the most popular par-3 holes in golf. This tournament has been played since 1974. Jack Nicklaus won the event that first year, and he went on to win it two more times (1976 and 1978). Tiger Woods won this event in 2001, which also means he has won every event on this list at least once. Other notable winners of The Players Championship include Lee Trevino, Greg Norman, and Davis Love III (twice).