SPRINGFIELD, NEW JERSEY | If luck is the residue of hard work and design, the PGA of America’s hard work at its signature championship will never be questioned, even if the design is second-guessed.
That this PGA Championship finished Sunday – and not today or Tuesday – is owed to a totally unexpected turn in the weather on Sunday and the desperately unending toil of the green superintendent at Baltusrol Golf Club and his crew. They are the unsung heroes of this PGA Championship, making it possible for Jimmy Walker to hoist the trophy in the cool and cloudy gloaming of Sunday evening.
Walker’s first major championship was nearly overshadowed by the questionable decisions by the PGA of America in conducting its championship. The luck came first on Thursday and Friday when the championship dodged predicted thunderstorms with only a 45-minute delay on Thursday.
But when rain and lightning caused a halt to play for the day at 2:14 p.m. Saturday, many were up in arms that the PGA had insisted on a one-tee start with twosomes, knowing that thunderstorms were a virtual certainty. If players had been grouped in threesomes, starting on Nos. 1 and 10, the third round could have been completed before the storms.
Instead, the final six groups had to play 36 holes on Sunday and luckily, they made it. But even more curious was the PGA’s decision to allow the players preferred lies for the final round. Why is a one-tee start sacred and playing the ball as it lies isn’t?
You have to be a little lucky in major championships and the PGA lucked out at Baltusrol in more ways than one.