Peter Thomson might have been up to his old tricks. He once described the Americans as the “greatest collection of golfers in the world” right before he captained an International team that annihilated the U.S. in the 1998 Presidents Cup.
So what to make of his prediction at Carnoustie nine years later? Tiger Woods was going for a third straight British Open title, a feat accomplished only six times in major championship history, most recently by Thomson in 1956.
“He has a chance to win eight in a row,” Thomson replied.
It wasn't clear if Thomson was joking or trying to create even more attention for Woods. By the end of the week, it was a moot point as Woods tied for 12th. Woods won majors at a faster clip than anyone. He remains the only player to win multiple majors in consecutive years. But he never won the same major three straight times.
Neither did Jack Nicklaus. The one chance he had, Nicklaus missed the cut going for a third straight Masters. Tom Watson shared the 54-hole lead at St. Andrews in 1984 in his bid for a third straight British Open. He closed with 73 and finished two shots behind Seve Ballesteros.
Arnold Palmer. Ben Hogan. Harry Vardon.
The list of failures is much longer than the six men who actually won the same major back-to-back-to-back.
That's why the biggest challenge facing Brooks Koepka as he goes for a third straight PGA Championship this week at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco is more about history than his troublesome left knee and recent form.