St ANDREWS ONE
OF 16 EVENTS TO
WATCH IN 2024

THE OLD COURSE HOSTS WOMEN'S OPEN,
PLUS THERE IS OLYMPIC GOLF,
PRESIDENTS CUP AND SOLHEIM CUP

Published by : Stuart McLean - 27 February 2024

If you follow SuperSport’s 213 channel, then 2024 offers an unprecedented run of nine major tournaments to watch in the space of 11 weeks from June 13 to August 25. This televisual feast of golf is made possible by it being an Olympics year, and those golf championships will be contested the first two weeks of August.

These are three extremely busy months for the golf world’s leading men and women as the major season gets into full flow. Then, the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs culminate with the Tour Championship in the last week of August.

Unusually, there are 16 special golfing weeks for SuperSport viewers, beginning on March 14-17 with The Players Championship, and concluding at the end of September with the Presidents Cup. Five majors for men, five for women, two for seniors, the Olympics double-header, and two matchplay team contests.

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Stacy Lewis on Swilcan Bridge after winning 2013 Women’s Open at St Andrews.

Other than Augusta National and the Masters, three iconic venues stand out from the crowd this year. The men’s US Open returns to Pinehurst No 2 after an absence of 10 years, and the Women’s Open goes to the Old Course at St Andrews. And, even though it’s not hosting a major, Royal County Down, one of the world’s greatest links, will be the venue for the Irish Open on the DP World Tour from September 12-15, the same week as the Solheim Cup.

It’s only the third time the women have played an Open at St Andrews (previously in 2007 and 2013), and it is being touted by some as having the potential to be one of the highlights of the year.

The women’s game is currently better suited than the men to an Old Course tournament, as Pebble Beach was in 2023 for the Women’s US Open. The timeless attributes and challenges of these classic courses have been diminished by today’s power game, as we witnessed in the 2022 men’s Open at St Andrews when the Old Course’s firm fairways allowed ridiculously long drives and eliminated many of its quirky challenges.

The Old Course had never hosted a women’s professional tournament prior to the 2007 Women’s Open. The Road Hole 17th was played as a par 5, and Lorena Ochoa won on 287. American Stacy Lewis triumphed in the 2013 Open on 280, and finished with birdie threes at 17 and 18.

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Jack Nicklaus design Valhalla will be hosting its fourth PGA Championship in May.

There are no newcomers among the men’s venues this year, as there was last year with Los Angeles CC hosting the US Open.

The PGA Championship returns in May to a Jack Nicklaus design, Valhalla, the scene in 2014 of Rory McIlroy’s last major title. Astonishing that he hasn’t won a major in 10 years, although he did have 20 top-10s. Valhalla, ranked No 87 in Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest, is one of two Nicklaus courses to host a major, the other being Shoal Creek in Alabama. The PGA of America purchased the Kentucky course in 2000 (selling it in 2022), which explains why we keep going back there. It has seen thrilling action hosting the 1996 PGA (Mark Brooks), 2000 PGA (Tiger Woods), 2008 Ryder Cup, and 2014 PGA (McIlroy completed 18 in the dark to win by one from Phil Mickelson).

Eight years after Royal Troon’s memorable duel between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson, The Open returns to this west coast Scottish links with one of the best short holes in championship golf, the Postage Stamp, No 8. Just 110 metres, but with an extremely narrow green, it provides viewers with fun and drama, as errant shots come to grief. Scotland is the place to be for three consecutive weeks in July, with the Scottish Open returning to the Renaissance Club, and The Senior Open at Carnoustie.

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Women’s PGA host Sahalee was the scene of Vijay Singh’s first major triumph in 1998.

SuperSport’s coverage of all five of the women’s majors has improved immeasurably in recent years, and these championships are more likely to introduce us to unfamiliar courses. This year the US Open goes to Lancaster CC in Pennsylvania. A William Flynn design, it flies under the radar compared to more famous Pennsylvania clubs such as Oakmont and Merion, and Lancaster ranks only No 7 in the state by Golf Digest. It did host the 2015 Women’s Open (In Gee Chun), but nothing on the men’s side.

Sahalee, a course in the Pacific Northwest which has faded into obscurity, hosts the Women’s PGA in June. With narrow fairways framed by towering trees, it once hosted the men’s PGA (1998), the site of Vijay Singh’s first of three major victories.

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Pinehurst No 2 was given a major facelift before the 2014 US Open.

Pinehurst is regarded as the best golfing resort in the United States, having nine courses (No 10 by Tom Doak is due to open this year), and will be hosting its fourth US Open at the Donald Ross-designed No 2, upgraded by Ben Crenshaw & Bill Coore in 2010. The design duo also ripped out all the rough and established sandy wastelands between the fairways and tree lines. A big saving on irrigation was an additional outcome.

The other Pinehurst Opens are recent, 1999 (Payne Stewart), 2005 (Michael Campbell) and 2014 (Martin Kaymer). It became a favoured venue of the US Golf Association with the staging of the 1994 US Senior Open (won by Simon Hobday), and they have confirmed Pinehurst as the venue for future Opens in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047. Curiously, it only ranks No 29 by Golf Digest.

The women’s biennial Solheim Cup match between Europe and the USA, which saw a thrilling tie in Spain last year, will be played again this year to avoid future clashes with the Ryder Cup. It will compete instead with the Presidents Cup in September. The Solheim Cup is at the Robert Trent Jones GC, outside Washington DC, where the inaugural Presidents Cup was played in 1994 and three times subsequently. President Obama was a club member.

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Royal Montreal is one of three courses to repeat as a Presidents Cup venue, the others being Robert Trent Jones GC (4 matches) and Royal Melbourne (3).

Canada will host the International and USA men’s teams at Royal Montreal, so the Presidents Cup will not venture outside North America. The last match to do so was in 2019 in Australia, and the next one in 2028 will again be to Australia, about the only other country that can financially afford to stage it. Of the 14 matches played, only two have deviated from the North America-Australia axis, in South Africa in 2003 and Korea in 2015.

When the match was last played at Royal Montreal in 2007 the SA players in the 12-man International team under the captaincy of Gary Player included Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman. However, at this early stage of the year the International team may not include a single South African. It will take some outstanding performances from our players to break into captain Mike Weir’s lineup. He will have six wildcard selections, but being a Canadian is likely to favour his own countrymen.

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Seaside course Newport CC hosted the very first US Open in 1895.

One course I’m looking forward to viewing is Newport Country Club, host of the US Senior Open in June. Situated in America’s smallest state, Rhode Island, south of Boston, it was the first club to host the US Amateur and US Open in 1895, on a 9-hole layout, so has historical significance. Newport was one of the five founding clubs of the USGA. To celebrate the centennial, in 1995, the US Amateur returned, and was won by Tiger Woods. Then, in 2006, it was the turn of the US Women’s Open (Annika Sorenstam) to visit.

The Players Championship in March will celebrate its Golden (50th) Anniversary. The first Players, in September 1974, was played in Atlanta before moving to its current Florida site at Sawgrass in 1977. Jack Nicklaus won three of the first five Players. Pete Dye’s TPC Stadium Course was first used in 1982.

It will be interesting to see which South Africans, men and women, qualify for the Olympics in Paris at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National.

Only one South African has ever won an Olympic medal in golf, and that was Rory Sabbatini, who claimed silver representing Slovakia at the 2021 Games in Tokyo. This year Ashleigh Buhai will likely be our best hope of a medal. She played at Rio in 2016, but missed Tokyo. The fields are limited to 60 players each, with possibly two South African men qualifying. We had Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Garrick Higgo in 2021, and Brandon Stone and Jaco van Zyl in 2016.

GOLF’S MAJOR EVENTS IN 2024

March (1)

Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium), Florida, March 14-17
Scottie Scheffler, 2023 First prize $4.5 million

April (2)

Masters, Augusta National, Georgia, April 11-14
Jon Rahm, 2023 $3.24 million

Chevron Championship, Carlton Woods, Texas, April 18-21
Lilia Vu, 2023 $765 000

May (2)

PGA Championship, Valhalla, Louisville, Kentucky, May 16-19
Brooks Koepka, 2023 $3.15 million

US Women’s Open, Lancaster CC, Pennsylvania, May 30-June 2
Allisen Corpuz, 2023 $2 million

June (3)

US Open, Pinehurst (No 2), North Carolina, June 13-16
Wyndham Clark, 2023 $3.6 million

Women’s PGA Championship, Sahalee, Seattle, June 20-23
Ruoning Yin, 2023 $1.5 million

US Senior Open, Newport CC, Rhode Island, June 27-30
Bernhard Langer, 2023 $720 000

July (3)

The Evian Championship, Evian Resort, France, July 11-14
Celine Boutier, 2023 $1 million

Open Championship, Royal Troon, Scotland, July 18-21
Brian Harman, 2023 $3 million

The Senior Open, Carnoustie, Scotland, July 25-28
Alex Cejka, 2023 $447 800

August (3)

Men’s Olympic Games, Le Golf National, Paris, August 1-4
Xander Schauffele 2021

Women’s Olympic Games, Le Golf National, Paris, August 8-11
Nelly Korda, 2021

Women’s Open, Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland, Aug 22-25
Lilia Vu, 2023 $1.35 million

September (2)

Solheim Cup, Robert Trent Jones GC, Virginia, September 13-15
Team Europe

Presidents Cup, Royal Montreal, Canada, September 26-29
Team USA

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