Ranking the 25 toughest major championship courses of past 25 years

18 Jul 1999: Jean Van De Velde of France looks at his ball in the burn on the 18th hole during the British Open played at the Carnoustie GC in Carnoustie, Scotland. Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird /Allsport Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images - 1999

Ranking the 25 toughest major championship courses of past 25 years

Courses

Ranking the 25 toughest major championship courses of past 25 years

One lasting image of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie is a 19-year-old Sergio Garcia in tears while walking with his arm around his mother, Consuelo.

Garcia fired an 18-over 89 in the opening round, a score that helped set the table for the toughest major championships of the past 25 years.

“The Open is always difficult, but this year is too tough,” Garcia said back then.

Garcia has played in 76 consecutive majors, so he’s seen his share of difficult major tests, including 21 of the 25 toughest since 1993.

Of course, that 1999 Open Championship will forever be immortalized by the ghastly collapse of Jean Van De Velde on the 18th hole Sunday. He entered the final hole with a three-shot lead before collapsing with a a triple-bogey seven. He would lose in a three-man playoff to Paul Lawrie.

Here’s a look at the complete list, which is ranked by average shots over par (ASOP) with the course, year, the major and average shots over par:

Course Year Major ASOP
Carnoustie 1999 British Open 5.82
Oakmont 2007 U.S. Open 5.70
Winged Foot 2006 U.S. Open 4.99
Bethpage Black 2002 U.S. Open 4.91
Royal Birkdale 2008 British Open  4.87
Shinnecock Hills 2018 U.S. Open 4.65
Pinehurst No. 2 1999 U.S. Open 4.55
Merion 2013 U.S. Open 4.55
The Olympic Club 1998 U.S. Open  4.49
Pebble Beach 2000 U.S. Open  4.35
Oakland Hills 2008 PGA Championship  4.31
Oak Hill 2003 PGA Championship 4.31
Pinehurst No. 2 2005 U.S. Open 4.17
Shinnecock Hills 2004 U.S. Open 4.07
Royal Birkdale 1998 British Open 4.02
Pebble Beach 2010 U.S. Open 3.98
Royal St. George’s 2003 British Open 3.80
Torrey Pines 2008 U.S. Open 3.71
Congressional 1997 U.S. Open 3.65
Oakmont 2016 U.S. Open 3.56
Shinnecock Hills 1995 U.S. Open 3.52
Muirfield 2013 British Open 3.48
Southern Hills 2001 U.S. Open 3.27

(Note: This story originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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