As avid golfers, this week we watched the TV commentators try to predict the winner of golf's final major – the PGA. Thursday, the leader was Carl Pettersson (-6), with notables: Rory McIlroy, John Daly, Keegan Bradley, and Tiger Woods not far behind. Storylines in all directions. Is Rory back on track? Can Tiger get another Major? Will Keegan win back to back PGA's? John Daly, well...John Daly!!
Friday, the real Ocean Course arrived with 30 mile per hour winds; flags flew stiff and balls flew sideways. After a 69, the conversation turned to Vijay Singh becoming the oldest player to win a major. Then Saturday the rain and lightning sent everyone home early. The remaining rounds had to be blended into Sunday with as many as 27 holes deciding the champion.
I am one of the 27,000 PGA members, so this event has a special place because it is our major. Starting in 1916 as a match play event, James Barnes defeated Joch Hutchison, one up. Then in 1958, with TV money as the driving force, the event switched to medal play. Dow Finsterwald won at Llanerch Country Club, shooting 14 under par. The Llanerch Country Club is in Haverford Township, Pennsylvania also famous for the Merion Golf Club, which hosted U.S. Opens in 1934, 1950 (famous for Ben Hogan's 1-iron into 72 hole), 1971 and 1981.
Ninety-six years later, a 23 year-old from Northern Ireland posted one of the best rounds ever by shooting 66 for an eight shot victory. Rory's bogey-free round ended all the conversation. Tiger bogeyed both par-5’s on the back nine looking hopeless with his driver. Vijay Singh shot 77 and didn't become the oldest player at 49 years old to win a major, and no one with a long putter raised the Wannamaker Trophy.
McIlroy, needing only 24 putts Sunday, reminded us all that the best putters in the world have always used the standard putter.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island beat up everyone except a youngster from Ireland. Maybe the Europeans got revenge for the 1991 Ryder Cup matches. The Americans celebrated wildly after European player Bernhard Langer's six-footer wiggled by the last hole of the final match. It was a heartbreaking loss and fueled the modern Ryder Cup rivalry. Four of this year's PGA Championship top five players are from England or Ireland.
We have a year before the Majors start. April, 2013, the Masters gets the conversation going about Tiger catching Jack Nicklaus' major record; but for now, hats off to a record win by the youngster from Ireland – Rory McIlroy. Well done!