Torment Plus Triple-Bogeys Equal PGA

JOHNS CREEK, GEORGIA | During a week it seemed PGA stood for Professional Golfers Anonymous, the year’s final major, to paraphrase the promotional slogan, indeed became glory’s last shot. To the ribs.
The 93rd PGA Championship was not so much a tournament as a torment, an exercise in double-bogeys and triple distress, Ryo Ishikawa hitting balls into the water – six the first round – Rory McIlroy hitting a partially exposed tree root, and after two days, Tiger Woods hitting the road. Oh, yes, a good walk very spoiled.
If you thought there was chaos for a few days caused by the Dow Jones, consider the aggravation created by Rees Jones.
He’s the architect who turned the Highlands Course of Atlanta Athletic Club into a maze of tee boxes, traps and trouble.
Then again, it all worked to help get America get off the schneid in the big ones, the old U.S. of A. ending its losing streak in the majors at a tidy six. Who says Americans can’t play the game?
A playoff was required to find a winner, naturally, but since it involved two guys from the United States, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner, it was a good bet this time nobody from Northern Ireland would get in the way.
And if Bradley took the title, well, Saturday, one of his pals, and the third-round co-leader with Dufner, Brandon Steele said of Keegan, “If you went and watched him play, you would instantly think that he’s going to be a superstar.”
What you wouldn’t have thought until Sunday was he would be a major champion, which he has become.
But there have been some other surprising winners of the PGA in the past – Wayne Grady and Shaun Micheel to name a couple. Meanwhile, two of the greats, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, never won it.
Mickelson grabbed the PGA once, in 2005, but when he started griping about what Jones – Rees, not Dow – did to AAC (not that Phil was alone in his viewpoint) it was apparent Mickelson wasn’t going to like his result any more than he did the setup. He did finish at even par, at least.
“It was a fun, great course, and what this is, is a long golf course,’’ Mickelson said of the Rees Jones remodeling, which stretched the place to more than 7,400 yards. “It’s not fun, it’s not great, it’s not exciting. It’s just long and hard.’’
If that’s the reason Tiger, Darren Clarke, Dustin Johnson and 2010 champion Martin Kaymer missed the cut and left the tournament with what Oliver Brown of the London Daily Telegraph described as a “witness protection leader board,’’ that’s the breaks. And the birdies and bogeys.
Before Woods departed, never to be seen until the 12th of Never or the Australian Open, whichever comes first, he made two observations. One, about the last four holes at AAC. “I don’t think there’s another stretch that I can remember that’s this difficult coming in.’’ He was right.
Two, about the event. “It’s going to be a hot week and a fun week.’’ He was half right. It was hot, in the 90s.
And, truth tell, it was fun for Dufner, Bradley and, through 54 holes, Steele, who were not among the favorites or the famous. But now that they proved the U.S. Tour is more than Tiger, Phil and Steve Stricker, the status may change.
What McIlroy proved was he has a great deal of courage if not discretion. The first round he unwisely tried to hit a shot out of the trees – when you get in trouble, get out of trouble not into more trouble – and whacked a root, straining a tendon in his right wrist. Encapsulated in a brace, McIlroy survived all four rounds but had no chance to duplicate his U.S. Open victory.
Clarke had no chance even to play all four rounds. Darren hasn’t come down from the high (literal and figurative, you might conclude after the Guinness and the acclaim) after taking the British Open a few weeks back and then flying across the Atlantic.
It’s never going to get any better for Clarke, no matter what. So if he shot 78-76 – 154 for 14 over, he’s wasn’t about to stop smiling. “I’m just going away,’’ was his farewell comment. “I need a rest.’’
What others, including major winners Jim Furyk and David Toms (who took the PGA in 2001 on a much kinder AAC) needed was an opportunity to regain their senses.
Every time someone didn’t hit a ball perfectly, it was in the sand – soft, powdery stuff that flummoxed the golfers – or in a pond. Titleist, Nike, Callaway and Srixon will be restocking shortly.
Saturday, Furyk, very much in contention, knocked two into the water in front of 18. Those double-bogeys play hell with your score, and there were 300 during the week, plus 60 triple-bogeys or higher.
In his brief fling at regaining his swing and his confidence, neither of which was present and accounted for, Woods had six doubles. Keegan Bradley had two doubles and Sunday a triple. And still finished ahead of everybody else.
Talent will trump anonymity every time.


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