Tiger back in weekend of Open golfing binge

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods practises ahead of the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. PHOTO | AFP 

Today is a public holiday, thanks to the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr. This holiday marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan. It is also a long weekend, time to binge on golf – after all, it is the US Open weekend and Tiger Woods is playing.

The 118th US Open Golf Championship is taking place at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, New York. This will be the fifth time Shinnecock Hill is hosting this prestigious golf event and it will have that privilege once more in 2026. Shinnecock first hosted the US Open in 1896 and the winner at that time, James Foulis took home US$150. In 1986 when the US Open was next held at this venue, the winner Raymond Floyd pocketed a healthier purse of $115,000 and in 1995 Corey Pavin won and took home $350,000.

In 2004, South African Retief Goosen was victorious and he went home $1,125,000 richer. This Sunday, the winner of the US Open at Shinnecock will take home $2,160,00 (Sh222.48million) approximately 18 per cent of the total prize purse of $12m (Sh1.236Billion).

The Runner this weekend will take home $1,296,000 and the 8th placed contestant will win $336,000 – slightly less than what the 1995 winner pocketed in 1995. The 66th placed winner will pocket $22,729 (Sh2.3m) whilst every golfer who misses the CUT today will take home $4,000 (Sh412,000).

In the field this weekend are the world’s top golfers led by Tiger Woods (currently ranked 80th in the world) and the entire top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking – Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama.

Similarly, each player in the Top 30 is also in action at Shinnecock including Spain’s Sergio Garcia, on-form Italian Francesco Molinari and Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey. Americans Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson may not be clear favourites but have the pedigree to win.

South Africa’s Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwatzel and Ernie Els will also be in the hunt.

The star attraction will undoubtedly be Tiger Woods but one cannot discount the defending champion Koepka, The Open Champion Spieth, the PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and the Masters Champion Patrick Reed.

The US Open is generally considered the toughest of the four Majors and only the toughest pros have been managed to claim this trophy. Tiger was the 2008 US Open Champion, beating Rocco Mediate in a nail-biting playoff. This was Tiger’s 14th and last Major victory. Tiger is making his second or perhaps third return to competitive golf since 2008 and he is showing prospects of winning again. Tiger is now 42 and although the entire golf fraternity is rooting for him to win again, and perhaps get to 18 Majors – and equal the record held by Jack Nicklaus, time is running out.

McIlroy’s first Major victory was the US Open in 2011 beginning a good run at the Majors that saw him win the PGA Championship in 2012 and the Open Championship and PGA Championship once again in 2014. Since then, the highly talented McIlroy has failed to clinch another Major.

Enjoy the weekend and to all my Muslim brothers and sisters – Eid Mubarak.