Professional Golf, and golf fans around the world have patiently waited a long time for a final round like we had at the 2014 PGA Championship on Sunday evening at The Valhalla Golf Course. Not only did we get two heavy-weight contenders slugging it out down the back stretch but four. In the end, it was Rory McIlroy who took the hardware home
The last time I was this excited about the finish of a golf tournament was at the 2013 Masters when Adam Scott outlasted Angel Cabrera in the rain and pending darkness at Augusta. Yesterday it was four solid top ten players trading punches at Valhalla with weather moving in, and darkness trying to beat the final group to the clubhouse.
When the dust settled on the Jack Nicklaus designed Valhalla Golf Course, it was Rory McIlroy who was lifting his second Wanamaker Trophy and celebrating the fourth major of his career, his third tournament in a row, and his second major in a row.
The young Northern Irishman becomes the third player in history to win four majors before he turned 26 years old. Only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus accomplished this feat earlier.
Rory McIlroy had looked flat early in Sunday’s finale’, and I had told some friends via Facebook that he had looked flat on Saturday as well. I could understand that he may be tired after leading, and winning the Open Championship on the other side of the big pond, and then winning last week at Firestone.
I’m sure he was on the verge of exhaustion on Sunday afternoon, and was playing along side of Brendt Wiesberger from Austria in the final group with all of the action happening in front of him.
With the battle raging between Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler down the stretch, and Henrik Stenson joining the fight by the time they made the turn, I think everyone forgot about Rory after he dropped out of the lead on the front nine.
Rory was one over par for the day, and three shots back after bombing his tee shot on the tenth hole, a place where he had hit his second shot out-of-bounds on Thursday for a double bogey. He heard the roars coming from the 11th hole as Phil made a birdie, and you could see the look on his face.
It was time to make a statement and remind fans, and the announcers that he was still on the golf course. Rory hit a 3-wood from almost 280 yards out that was perfectly struck and ended up seven feet left of the pin. He drained the eagle putt and it was game on.
Henrik Stenson, and Rickie Fowler faded down the stretch with some mistakes, and a little bad luck but it was Phil Mickelson who brought the major championship experience to the game at the end.
As the groups kinda joined up to get in before the darkness and weather moved in, it was Mickelson who made a birdie at the 18th hole to force Rory to make at least a par. If Phil’s shot had rolled in, they would be finishing this tournament on Monday morning. Rory made par from the bunker, and the most exciting tournament of the year was over.
Phil Mickelson gets his first top ten finish of the year and plays his way into the Ryder Cup, Rory McIlroy retains his number one ranking, and is now first in FedEx Cup points as the playoffs begin in two weeks, Rickie Fowler finishes in the top five in all four majors in 2014, and Henrik Stenson finally made some noise in 2014.
What a tournament!