In Fourball we look ahead back on our favourite PGA Championship and ahead to Glory’s Last Shot or, as it now is, the second major on the calendar. Alex Perry, Dan Murphy and Steve Carroll join me…
With the move to May are you mentally ready for another major?
Steve: I’m more excited about the PGA than at any time in the last few years and that’s as big a testament to the change that I can give. I love the idea of having a major a month from April – even if it means months of famine after we get past the Open. The Masters has only stirred the senses.
Dan: I think it’s going to be the making of the PGA. It’s of so much more interest now than previously when it was on the other side of the US Open and Open. Imagine a world where one body ran professional golf and was deciding when to schedule the four majors. You’d want the Masters first no doubt about that.
Then you would put the weakest one in second, which is the PGA. Then the US Open and Open follow naturally on. The Open is strong enough and distinctive enough to anchor the season. I don’t think it does the European Tour any favours though. It feels to me like the tour is an after-thought right the way through until the back end of June after the US Open.
Alex: I’m not even close to being ready. Tiger only won the Masters last week, didn’t he? I’m sure we’ll get used to this intense four-month major period but I haven’t come down from Augusta yet.
Mark: I love the PGA wherever it goes and I never really get the hardship of trying to get excited and up for it as much as four times a year, five if there’s a Ryder Cup. Who doesn’t love a journeyman having the week of his life and being able to live off it for the rest of his days? It will be great for the championship, how can it not be and it’s got the perfect build-up with Tiger having done what he did at Augusta.
What’s your favourite PGA Championship memory and why?
Alex: Plenty from my childhood, mostly involving Tiger (obviously) but I’ll go for two more recent ones: Rory McIlroy blowing away the field in 2012 (I bet you can’t tell me who came 2nd) and then finishing in the dark two years later where he pipped a world-class leaderboard that included Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk and Victor Dubuisson.
Dan: Long John at Crooked Stick is right up there. I still remember watching that open-mouthed. I never root for the underdog at majors but I was that week. Sergio and Tiger at Medinah in 1999 is another one that sticks in the mind. Whistling Straits in 2004, when Vijay won in a play-off, was a great week at a venue that caught the imagination.
I think Jimmy Walker at a gloomy Baltusrol might be the most forgettable in recent memory. Sorry Jimmy. If not that then Phil’s PGA at the same venue in 2005 was less than thrilling.
Steve: John Daly’s win at Crooked Stick in 1991 feels the most obvious but Rory’s unbelievable 3-wood at Valhalla is one of the best shots I’ve ever seen under pressure. I can still trace the arc of the ball from that overhead camera – thinking it’s going out of bounds – and then watching it find the green.
Mark: I was island hopping in a transit van in Greece for my first Summer of Love when John Daly won so, for very different reasons, I’ll go with Trevino’s final major win. I have a strange memory of watching him win in 1984 at Shoal Creek and being allowed to stay up late with my dad at my grandma’s in Wales. I’m pretty sure that was the most golf I had ever watched to that point and, although it seemed to be wet, gloomy affair, I loved Trevino from his Pro Celebrity days and he was unstoppable that week.
Two of you have played Bethpage, two of us will have watched every shot in 2002. What should we most be looking forward to from there?
Steve: If watching tour stars going through mental torture is your thing then Bethpage is your place. This golf course is ridiculously hard and the rough is going to make some fools of very good golfing exponents. A couple of the holes – I’m thinking specifically of the 4th and 17th – are in the conversation as being among the best in America so seeing those in championship condition, and remembering how I got on, will be a thrill.
Alex: There is not a golfer on the planet who could watch a tour event on a course that they have played and not compare everything the big stars do to how we got on that day. I plan on spending the week saying “How’s he done that?!” every time someone advances the ball more than 100 yards from that rough.
Dan: After the tedious 2009 US Open here won by Lucas Glover, I’m just hoping for some reasonable weather. Poor weather can be the making of an Open but it does nothing for your average American major. Back in 02, there was talk of fairways that some of the field couldn’t reach into the breeze and the hardest US Open test in history. Presumably the set-up will be slightly less severe for this PGA. It is a cool venue, and a welcome change-up from the ultra-private likes of Merion and Oakmont.
Mark: From what my pro friend tells me it’s going to hose it down for the next week as it has been non-stop recently. So I would imagine it’s going to be another slog-fest with the chief and I’m hoping/praying that means Rory repeatedly unleashing merry hell on the ball off the tee and getting a fifth major.
That and loads of weak lager-induced atmosphere.