Golf has five recognised professional Major Championships in the women’s game played on an annual basis: The Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Wegmans LPGA Championship, the US Women’s Open, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and The Evian.
Kraft Nabisco Championship
First played in 1972 as the Colgate – Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle, the championship became recognised as a major in 1983. It is played at the end of March each year at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. Winners over the years have included some of the leading players in the women’s game such as Nancy Lopez, Betsy King, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Yani Tseng. The current champion is Sun Young Yoo.
The Wegmans LPGA Championship
The second women’s major of the season is played each June at its current venue of Locust Hill Country Club, in New York. It has been played since 1955 and was established to give women opportunities to play professional golf. Among the tournament’s champions are Mickey Wright, Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, Laura Davies, Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam, Suzann Pettersen and Yani Tseng. In 2012, Shanshan Feng became the first Chinese player to win a major championship. The championship has been played at various venues including Bulle Rock Golf Course, Bethesda Country Club, the Jack Nicklaus Sports Centre and Pine Ridge Golf Course.
US Women’s Open
The oldest women’s major championship was first played in 1946 and is conducted by the United States Golf Association. It is the only event to have been recognised by the LPGA since it was founded in 1950. Normally played in early July, the championship is open to professional and amateur golfers. Na Yeon Choi won the 2012 championship at Blackwolf Run. Previous winners have included Patty Berg, Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, Laura Davies, Betsy King, Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer. The championship has been staged at prestigious courses such as the Country Club of Rochester, Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Hazeltine, Oakmont, Crooked Stick, Pine Needles, Cherry Hills and Interlachen. In 2013 it will be played at Sebonack Golf Club.
Ricoh Women’s British Open
The Women’s British Open was established by the Ladies’ Golf Union in 1976. Unlike The Open Championship in the men’s game it is not exclusively played on links courses. The championship became a co-sanctioned event between the Ladies’ European Tour and the LPGA Tour in 1994. Normally played in late July, the 2012 championship, won by Jiyai Shin at Royal Liverpool, was staged in September to avoid clashing with the London Olympic Games. Among the championship’s former winners are Betsy King, Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, Patty Sheehan, Karrie Webb, Sherri Stenhauer, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Yani Tseng. The championship has been played at Royal Birkdale, Sunningdale, Royal Lytham & St Annes, Turnberry and Carnoustie and will be held for the second time at the Old Course in St Andrews in 2013.
The Evian Championship
The Evian will become a major championship in 2013. Previously known as the Evian Masters, the event was first staged in 1994. Since 2003 it has been played in the week before the Ricoh Women’s British Open in July but from next year it will be played in September as the final major championship of the season. It is played at the Evian Masters Golf Club in Evians-les-Bains in France which overlooks Lake Geneva. The 2012 event was won by Inbee Park and former champions include Helen Alfredsson, Laura Davies, Annika Sorenstam, Julie Inkster, Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato.
Golf has four recognised professional Major Championships in the men’s game played on an annual basis: The Open Championship, The Masters, the US Open and the USPGA Championship.
The Open Championship
Golf’s oldest major championship celebrated its150th anniversary championship in 2010. The Claret Jug is awarded to the Champion Golfer of the Year. The Open is played on some of the world’s finest links courses: the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie, Turnberry, Royal Troon, Royal Lytham & St Annes, Royal Liverpool, Royal St Georges, Royal Birkdale and next year’s venue Muirfield. Many of the leading golfers of their generation have won The Open such as Tom Morris and his son Tommy, the Great Triumverate of James Braid, JH Taylor and Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Peter Thomson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods. The current champion is Ernie Els.
First played in 1934, the Masters is synonymous with Augusta National Golf Club where it is held each April. The winner receives the Masters Trophy, depicting the Augusta Clubhouse, and dons the Green Jacket to signify becoming an honorary member of the club. For many golf fans, the Masters heralds the start of the traditional golf season and is renowned as a spectacle for Augusta’s famously green fairways, fast, contoured greens and blooming flowers such as azaleas. Champions over the years have included Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and, most recently, Bubba Watson.
The US Open
The US Open is the open golf championship of the USA. It has been played since 1895 and is staged at a different course each year. Venues have included prestigious courses such as Shinnecock Hills, Oakmont, Winged Foot, Hazeltine, Pebble Beach, Congressional and Pinehurst No 2. The 2013 event will be played at Merion. The US Open is renowned as one of the toughest tests of golf with courses set up to make low scoring difficult and to place a premium on accuracy from the tee. Champions have included Willie Anderson, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. The current champion is Webb Simpson.
The USPGA Championship
The final major of the season is conducted by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. First played in 1916 as a matchplay event the championship switched to stroke play in 1958. Winners have included Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods. The current champion is Rory McIlroy. The USPGA has been played at courses such as Oakland Hills, Hazeltine, Whistling Straits, Baltusrol, Valhalla and Medinah. Next year’s event is at Oak Hill.