I’m not one to make knee jerk, instantaneous claims right on the spot. I usually take my time, sit back and really think about what just happened. But, when something truly special happens I say it. And what happened at this year’s PGA Championship was truly something special.
It’s hard to put into context and it’s hard to measure where the 2014 PGA Championship ranks in terms of best majors of all-time, but I would say that it’s safe to assume that the 2014 PGA Championship has been the best major of the decade up to this point.
Not only was Sunday just absolutely thrilling and fantastic…a Sunday major that ranks right up there with the best of them as well, but going back to Thursday and the start of the tournament and all through the weekend we saw golf at its best. And that’s really the clincher for me. This wasn’t a tournament where it was just a great Sunday, this was a tournament that was thrilling to watch for four days and had all kinds of moments.
Lee Westwood, who has had a terrible season, all of a sudden, jumped out to the lead to start the tournament. It was a nice feel good story that maybe, just maybe Westy could finally do it, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. J.B. Holmes had a great start to the tournament as well. And we had an eclectic group of golfers.
From American Ryan Palmer just starting off his front nine in unbelievable fashion to Englishman Chris Wood and Italian Edoardo Molinari shooting 66′s on day one. Steady Jim Furyk in conditions and on a course that didn’t fit his game well finding a way to shoot a 66-68 on Thursday and Friday. Jimmy Walker finishing in a tie for 7th giving him top nine finishes at three of the four majors this season. Austrian’s Bernd Wiesberger coming out of nowhere after shooting a third round 65 to get into the last group with Rory McIlroy.
Jason Day doing his best Seve Ballesteros impression on Saturday. All in all, there was just a lot going on and most importantly a lot of high quality golf being playing from top to bottom, from Thursday to Sunday. And, of course now, getting into Sunday, boy oh boy that Sunday had it all.
It had high drama and some stellar golf. Nobody was going to back into a major someone was going to have to step up and take it. “The Big Easy” Ernie Els made a late charge to make things interesting for the leaders as they were just starting up.
McIlroy started off flat and at one point was three strokes behind at the turn.
It eventually turned into a four horse race – the four horseman which fit given that Valhalla is in the state of Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby. Rory, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Henrik Stenson all battling it out; all four absolutely intense and determined to win. You just didn’t know who would come out on top as all four were playing to the best – or at least darn close – to their ability.
All four were sticking just about every shot right on point and when they did error they would bomb a putt to make an incredible birdie or to save an absolutely fantastic par save.
All four had their moments, their signature moments, if you will, where you had to think they might win it. Fowler birded number 10 as he took over the lead. It really started looking like he might win it.
Stenson looking up to the heavens as he got away with his approach shot on 13 (and end up making birdie). You had to think, maybe this is finally it for Stenson.
Then Phil as he made a birdie on 11 and an incredible par on 12, and of course Rory’s eagle on 10 to put him right back in the thick of things.
Even some silly stuff, like Fowler’s caddie, Joe Skovran, running around 15 and 16, (almost forgot Fowler making a great par save on 16 after hitting it to the 15th hole rough. Another Ballesteros like save), we even had rain that delayed things for a good while, the ending while made things a little controversial gave it just that extra kick of what was so entertaining and the list really just goes on and on and on and I’m sure I’m missing a lot more as there was just a lot to take in and unravel….
Oh yeah, like the near epic trophy fail, but McIlroy made another great save. It was just that kind of tournament.
If you had the power to sculpt and create the absolute best golf tournament I’m not sure you could have really done much better than what we got.
I don’t know where the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla will rate as time passes. But, I do know that hours after its conclusion it rates right up there with some of the best; I have a very strong feeling that in due time 5, 10, 20, 50 years from now when we think back to this tournament we will have very fond memories of it and it will be thought of as one of those special tournaments in golf history.