By Tim Liotta
Molinari's Missed Major Season
Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy have ridden performances in the major championships to the top of the world of golf with three top-10 performances apiece in 2023's majors, but it may be Francesco Molinari who had the year's most most unique major championship season.
Molinari, the 2018 Open Championship winner, had the distinction of being the only player who missed the cut at all four major championships in 2023.
"Yeah, that's golf," said Molinari after the second round of the Open Championship. "It's the margins are small. There is a lot of different factors that you need to factor in.
"So it's complicated to have a very consistent career. I think everyone goes through ups and downs, and you just do your best to navigate both the ups and the downs."
The 40-year-old Molinari came up one shot short of playing the weekend at the Masters, two shots short at the PGA, before missing the cut by three shots at both the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
While Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Wyndham Clark and Brian Harmon each won a major title in 2023, Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy each posted three major championship top-10 finishes in 2023, and Tom Kim, Sepp Straka and Viktor Hovland each posted top-10 doubles in this year's edition of golf's four most anticipated annual events.
In all, 55 professionals played in all four of 2023's major championships in 2023, with a total of 300 players competing in at least one, with Will Zalatoris withdrawing prior to the first round of the Masters.
Only Rahm, Koepka, Hovland, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Ryan Fox and Tyrrell Hatton made the cut at each of 2023's major championships.
Rahm won the Masters in April this year for the second major title of his career, with the 2021 U.S. Open title being the first. The 28-year-old Spaniard also finished T2 at the 151st Open Championship, and added T10 at the 2023 U.S. Open. He also finished T50 at this year's PGA Championship.
Scheffler was a leaderboard presence in each of the first three majors of 2023, with a T2 at the PGA and a T3 at the U.S. Open. He also added a T10 at this year's Masters. Scheffler's biggest major struggle came at the Open Championship where he finished T23 thanks to a final-round, 4-under-par 67.
McIlroy, who completed his ninth straight year without a major title, finished T7 at the PGA, seemed to gain momentum with a T2 at the U.S. Open, only to stall in the final round for a T7 at the Open Championship. The 4-time major champion opened the major championship season by missing the cut by 2 shots the Masters.
After finishing second to Rahm at Augusta, Koepka took the PGA Championship by two shots in May for his fifth career major championship. Koepka, 33, then finished T17 at the U.S. Open and T64 at the Open Championship.
Clark, who won his first PGA Tour title in March, held off Rory McIlroy to the the 2023 U.S. Open for the first major championship title of his six-year career. Clark finished T33 at the Open Championship, missed the cut by 3 shots at the PGA, and did not qualify for the Masters.
Harman, who had won just twice in 12 years on the PGA Tour, dominated the Open Championship by 6 shots to win his first major championship. He finished T43 at the U.S. Open, and missed cuts at both the Masters and the PGA this year.
In only his eighth major championship start, Tom Kim continued his climb up major leaderboards by posting 68-66-69 over his final three rounds to finish T8 at the 2023 U.S. Open. He followed that up with a T2 at the Open Championship, playing the final three rounds on a severely injured right ankle.
Kim opened his 2023 campaign with a T16 at the 2023 Masters Tournament. He posted his first top-25 in a major at the 2022 U.S. Open.
Straka shot a final-round 65 to finish T7 at the PGA, and improved on that with a T2 at the 2023 Open Championship. The xx-year-old Austrian finished T46 at this year's Masters, and missed the cut by 2 shots at the U.S. Open at LACC.
Hovland finished 19th or better in all four major championships this year. The 24-year-old from Norway followed up a T2 at the Masters with a T7 at the PGA Championship. He finished T14 at the U.S. Open Championship and ended up 19th at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Hovland has finished 14th or better in 7 of the 19 major championships he's played in his career, with 3 career top-5s and 9 career top-10s.