What a roller coaster ride down the stretch at the 2014 Players Championship. Thanks to an hour and a half rain delay, I was able to get my grass cut on Sunday afternoon and still catch the dramatic finale’. I’ll have to admit, I was in the huge numbers who was rooting for 20 year-old Jordan Spieth to get his second win in the major championship setting at TPC Sawgrass.
After Jordan had played himself out of contention for the lead on Sunday afternoon, I was firmly pulling for Martin Kaymer. What a return to prominence for the 2010 PGA Champ. And what a great guy to break out of a swing slump to win this demanding event.
The Europeans are all heading back to Europe for the BMW European PGA Championship in two weeks. Some will play the Open De Espana this week, but most will be at The BMW where there will be major Ryder Cup points available.
For the second week in a row, Jim Furyk sits in the clubhouse and watches victory get snatched away at the last hole. The 2003 US Open Champ got in the clubhouse and posted a lead that almost stood up.
Kaymer stumbled at the 15th hole after the rain delay, and playing a dumb shot at 16, Kaymer opened the door to give Jim Furyk some hope, but an unbelievable par putt at 17, and a ho-hum par at 18 would send Jim home with another second-place finish.
Unfortunately, our society has been spoiled by Tiger Woods, and we have forgotten that it took Tiger a couple of years to learn how to win on the PGA Tour. Some want to know what is wrong with Spieth, who wasn’t able to convert at both, the Masters, and now the players. He is only 20 years old, and he will learn to win on Sunday at these big tournaments.
Even the great Tom Watson struggled early in his career trying to get those wins against the strong fields of the day. He was mentored by Byron Nelson who worked with him on how to close when leading big events. Jordan will get some mentoring from someone, and will learn the art of how to win.
The youngster let a couple of leads get away from him, but let’s get real here. He was up against the worlds best players at The Masters, and The Players Championship. He appears to get hyped(which I would for sure be) and his demeanor seems to change during the final rounds. He looks to be speeding up his decision-making, and his entire pre-shot routine. He’ll be back, and he will get over this slump.
Finishing quietly in a tie for sixth place at Sawgrass was Rory McIlroy. Rory has six top ten finishes in his last eight events. He is having the same problem Jordan Spieth is having, he’s forgotten how to win, but I expect him to get that problem solved soon.
Rory was 17 under par on the back nine for the week at the Players, but was horrendous on the front side where he was eight over. Martin Kaymer was just the opposite at 13 under on the front.
I’m curious how Rory is going to play at Pinehurst. He’s had some success at Quail Hollow where the grasses and greens resemble those at Pinehurst.
Sergio Garcia came up short again at The Players. Two back-nine bogeys derailed his push to get in the mix with Kaymer down the stretch. The 2008 champ came close last year until he had a meltdown at the 17th hole on Sunday. I think Sergio will be a factor at Pinehurst, and we are not done hearing from him this season.
“I wish I would have hit a couple of shots a little bit better on the back nine, those couple of bogeys kind of put me behind the eight ball a little bit,” Garcia said. “I still fought as hard as I could.”
At the end of the day, this was a great victory for Martin Kaymer. His victory at the 2010 PGA Championship was somewhat tainted by what happened to Dustin Johnson, but this win was all his. He stumbled after the rain delay to make it exciting for the fans, but righted the ship and got a quality win.
After trying to add a draw to his game, and falling to 81st in world rankings, I think Kaymer is back, and will be a factor in the remaining majors this year. He just needs to go back to living and dying with that fade. It made Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus a lot of money during their careers. It should serve Kaymer as well.