A lot of things happened on Sunday at the 92nd PGA Championship, and people are still trying to wrap their head around just how wild this finish was. We should have known when the final round started that we were due for something out of the ordinary, since as the round progressed, you never had any type of clue as to who would win the tournament. And when we thought we had a potential winner, a bunker issue ruined that. Yes, we learned that Martin Kaymer had the game to claim his first ever major championship. But there’s a lot more that we learned as well.
Here’s ten things that I’ll take away from golf’s final major of the season:
1. Never leave anything to chance in the game of golf
I was furious about the Dustin Johnson ruling last night. Absolutely furious. The morning after, and I’m still pretty hot about it. But, I will admit that I’ve started to understand the other side of this thing. Johnson is certainly to blame here as well, as I guess you can’t be too careful anymore on tour. There was sand, so he probably shouldn’t have called for some type of clarification on the issue. The rule is that you can’t ground your club in a bunker. So you at least have to question a little if it is to be considered a bunker. Johnson broke the rule. That’s what this whole thing comes down to. Rule sheets were offered to the players, so he had some idea of what to expect. But that doesn’t mean that the rule is as straight forward as it should be in this particular case.
2. Fans are now allowed to watch golf tournaments from a bunker
And that will be all the blame I put on Johnson. Because seriously, this is a major championship. One of the biggest golf tournaments on the planet. And we have fans standing in bunkers? There’s something wrong with that. I understand that Johnson needed to give the rules a closer glance, but I also understand that these guys play tournaments week after week for the entire year. And if this guy didn’t even stop to think that this could have been a bunker, then again, there’s something wrong with that. Like David Feherty said on the CBS telecast, it might have clearly been a bunker at the start of the week. But by the end of the week, after the PGA allowed fans to run around and play in it, it was a bunker no more.
3. The PGA Tour did screw up
While I do blame Johnson for not at least asking, the PGA still has to take some accountability here. Just where was the rules official? I don’t care how many fans are around Johnson on that shot, in this type of situation where we have the leader hitting from a very questionable area, he needs to be close by. And where exactly were these blue dots that were suppose to define that area as a bunker? Oh that’s right, we probably couldn’t see them because of the thousands of fans that had been running wild over this bunker throughout the week. Again, I completely agree that Johnson should have known the rule. But letting the PGA escape without a scratch in this issue would be a big mistake.
4. Whistling Straits is just a course destined for controversy
You always hear the name Pete Dye when you talk about excellent course design. But Dye’s creation of Whistling Straits seems to be causing more trouble than good these days. We might have thought that the Stuart Appleby incident at the 2004 PGA Championship was just a one-time thing, but unfortunately, the course reared its’ ugly head again yesterday. With the what seems like 8,000 bunkers throughout the course, I suppose things like that are bound to happen. But when the championship returns to Whistling Straits in 2015, let’s hope the PGA has learned its’ lesson, and either makes some changes to the bunker/waste area issue, or takes the course off the list for future major championships.
5. There’s a new era gradually pushing in on tour
In moving past the Johnson debacle, there’s something that would have been a big story this week had all this not gone down. Things are changing on tour, and by changing, I mean that the younger generation is starting to make their push to take the game of golf by the horns and lead the golfing world into the future. Several young players stood out this week: Kaymer, Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Camilo Villegas, and Jason Day, all finished in the Top 10, and all are under the age of 28. These are just a few of the guys that could lead the way in the future for the tour. But this group gained some “major” experience at the PGA Championship.
6. The old guys aren’t gonna let go that easily though
If you had told me before Thursday that Steve Elkington would have a putt to potentially be the in lead at Whistling Straits late on Sunday, I probably would have asked you if you were living in the year 1995. But Elkington tried to pull off what Tom Watson tried to pull off last year at Turnberry, but came up just short after bogeys on 17 and 18. He had an eagle putt on 16 that would have put him in the lead, and had he made that putt, who knows what type of finish we would have had. But one things for sure: the veterans on tour aren’t gonna let these young guns step into the spotlight that easily. Hopefully we see Elkington in contention again in the near future.
7. The pressure of a major championship can never be underestimated
After all, how else do you explain the 81 by Nick Watney after shooting the first three rounds at Whistling Straits in the 60s? Of course, this wasn’t the only time we’ve seen this happen before, and another case of this came as recently at Pebble Beach where none other than Dustin Johnson himself had a final round meltdown that cost him the major championship. I was really pulling for Watney entering the final round, but after he started with a bogey, I just had a very bad feeling about things. And sure enough, he had a dreadful day. But just like Johnson did, I fully expect to Watney to bounce back and have another shot at a major very soon.
8. I may have been wrong in counting out Tiger Woods so quickly
Tiger didn’t play great at Whistling Straits. But after the disaster that was the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, it was a major step in the right direction. Tiger had a different look in his eyes, and it’s one that I haven’t seen from him since he’s been back. The horrendous performance at Firestone might have given him the wakeup call that he needed, and maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of a new era for Tiger. While I don’t ever expect him to get back his old dominant ways, he at least seems to realize that he’s got a lot of work to do before he can start being a fixture at the top of the golf world again. If he’s willing to put in the work, which it looks like he is considering the changes from last week to this week, he’ll be back to winning golf tournaments soon enough.
9. Phil Mickelson may never be number one in the world
I’ve been building Phil up a great deal in recent weeks due to the fact that I’ve really wanted him to be the number-one ranked player in the world at some point in his career. Unfortunately though, it seems like each time he gets that chance, he doesn’t capitalize on it. He had a great final round this weekend, but he got off to a slow start, which offset the excellent finish. After seeing a different look from Tiger yesterday, I hope it’s not too late for Phil to somehow overtake him as number one in the world.
10. Playing by yourself in the final round of a major wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun
Put aside the fact that Jeff Overton simply had to play by himself on a Sunday at a major due to Ian Poulter withdrawing from the event. And then throw in the fact that Overton was in last place, and had to play by himself on a Sunday at a major. That’s a brutal combination, and one that couldn’t have felt too good for Overton, especially since he struggled to a 79 on the day. You go from being one of the hottest players on tour the week before to having to play in last place by yourself at the final round of a major. Talk about going from one extreme to another.
What did you learn from the 2010 PGA Championship?
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Topics: 2015 Pga Championship, Camilo Villegas, David Feherty, Dustin Johnson, Golf, Golf Analysis, Golf Controversy, Golf Rules, Jason Day, Jeff Overton, Martin Kaymer, Nick Watney, Pete Dye, PGA, Pga Bunker Rule, PGA Championship, Pga Championship Final Round, Pga Grounding Rule, Pga Of America, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Rules Official, Steve Elkington, Stuart Appleby, Tiger Woods, Whistling Straits