Ed. note: In this column, GOLF’s playing editor breaks down his performances in all seven majors from 2020 to 2021.
My 2020–2021 major report card
It seems like an eternity ago now, but when the original 2020 PGA Championship was canceled in March of that year, I didn’t know what was going to happen with the majors — or with anything at all. In some ways, though, the break was a blessing. It allowed me to work harder than I ever had in my life and transform my body to perform better in golf ’s biggest events. That’s what the top players in the world do — and I want to be a top player.
When the majors came back online, I placed T-4 at the PGA and won the U.S. Open. I haven’t fully cracked the major code yet, but I’m making progress. As I look back over the past 12 months, there’s a lot I’ve learned and am proud of.
2020 PGA: A
I played great golf the whole week at Harding Park, and to finish in the top five in a major for the first time was super validating for all the hard work I put in over the quarantine period. It gave me the belief that I was ready to take the next step and win a biggie.
Driving distance: 318.1 yds (2nd)
2020 U.S. Open: A+
Winning my first major was surreal and validation for the blood, sweat and tears me and my team put into it. My putting was so good all week, and I felt super comfortable with my driver—except for Saturday. That explains my late-night range session. The rest is history, I guess.
Driving distance: 325.8 yds (7th)
2020 Masters: C-
At the beginning of the week, I felt like I could have a great chance to win if I just played my game. I made enough birdies and eagles to have a chance, but my health wasn’t 100 percent. It was more like 60 percent; I was tired and struggled to focus. Lessons learned.
Driving distance: 324.4 yds (1st)
2021 Masters: D-
Winning the Masters is a huge goal of mine, but this time I forced things in too many areas. You have to experience failure in order to understand what success is. I’m learning every time I play. Augusta baffles me sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t win there.
Driving distance: 323.6 yds (2nd)
2021 PGA: C
Kiawah Island was a diabolical golf course when the wind got up — it was an awesome test. I struggled on the greens all week, but I thought if I could shoot a low round on Sunday, I’d have a chance. A few drives just got away from me on the last, which you can’t do at that course.
Driving distance: 327.6 yds (1st)
2021 U.S. Open: B+
Sometimes the scores or the finish don’t tell the full story. On Sunday, I didn’t hit the ball particularly well, but some of those shots were really unlucky. But, hey, that’s golf. Defending a title is really difficult. I can hold my head high knowing that I gave myself a chance on Sunday.
Driving distance: 333.9 yds (2nd)
2021 Open Championship: C
Admittedly, I was frustrated the whole week but ended up posting my best round ever in the Open on Sunday (65). I’m still learning the ins and outs of links golf, and hopefully I’ll study enough to give myself a chance to win one day.
Driving distance: 305.3 yds (4th)