ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI | The fourth day of a major championship can be the most exciting. See the Open at Carnoustie last month for proof. The last act of a play often brings the denouement. See any number of thrillers, whodunnits, three-act plays for proof. So what does this suggest about the last of the year’s quartet of major championships, the PGA Championship to be held at Bellerive Country Club Thursday to Sunday?
First, that it is the final time it will be staged in August. Next year it moves to May. Thereafter, it will sit neatly in a run of “a major a month” starting with the Masters in April and followed by the US Open in June and the Open in July. Oh yes, the Players, which is one of the most important events of the year even if it is not a major championship, is in March from next year, which adds to the symmetry of the calendar from 2019 onwards.
Second, that being in steamy St Louis in August and seeing the players and caddies wearing shorts during the practice rounds has brought the usual outpouring of criticism.
“They’re demeaning the game.”
“They look scruffy.”
Critics, be silenced. Next year at Bethpage Black on Long Island in May, at Harding Park in San Francisco in 2020 and Kiawah Island in 2021, players and caddies might be adding clothes not shedding them.
Third, that the PGA of America is not quite itself. CEO Pete Bevacqua, who has done a very good job in his six-year tenure, overseeing the move of the championship to May and the restructuring of the US Ryder Cup team, leaves the organisation on Sunday to take up the position as president of NBC Sports Group. A permanent successor has yet to be announced.
Fourth, that this event is the last counting event for the US Ryder Cup team and the leading eight players in the standings on Sunday night will be in captain Jim Furyk’s team in Paris in 50 days. That doesn’t half add an element of excitement to this championship.
Fifth, that Jordan Spieth has a chance to win the one major championship he has not yet won. He would thus become the sixth man to have victories in all four of the game’s greatest prizes after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.
Sixth: This is the 100th PGA Championship. Neat, eh?
All in all, it promises to be some week in St Louis.