PGA Championship Notebook: Rory, Tiger, Phil and Jordan
Rory’s back (in three weeks)
After his miraculous recovery to make it to Whistling Straits Rory McIlroy will give his left ankle two weeks rest and miss The Barclays which kicks off the FedEx play-offs.
Given the circumstances McIlroy’s defence was brilliant, four rounds under par, a closing total of -9 and 17th place.
“I’m going to take a couple of weeks off just to sort of re-assess
everything, and I’ll start back in the play-offs at Boston (at the Deutsche Bank Championship),” McIlroy said.
“Then play through the FedExCup. Then I’ve got to play Frys.com and then I’m playing maybe a couple more after that, Dubai and China. You have to play safe coming back from injury; you have to give yourself enough time.”
McIlroy, who is yet to win the FedEx Cup, was 12th in the standings entering the PGA Championship. He is now the World No 2 after being overtaken by Jordan Spieth.
Jones lives up to Aussie stereotype
Whistling Straits’ major defence is over 1,000 bunkers. Matt Jones, while leading midway through the third round, went left of those guarding the 9th fairway and ended up in a hospitality tent.
From where he played his approach, off some carpet and in amongst a load of revellers who couldn’t quite believe their luck.
“Actually I was happy where the ball was. The spot where I had to have gone would have been much harder. And I hit a very good shot. I actually hit it exactly on the line I picked, I picked the wrong line. I thought the wind was off to the left, but it was straight down,” he explained.
“There was a lot of cameras clicking. And I just had to deal with it, because no -one is going to be able to control a crowd like that. So I just hit my shot.”
He ended up making five.
Typical rollercoaster for Lefty
Supposedly there are something like 1,012 bunkers at Whistling Straits, Phil Mickelson found seven of them in his opening round and still shot 72.
“It’s very hard to recover here,” he said. “You hit a bad shot, and some of the bad ones like I did, and you immediately throw par out of your mind and you’re just fighting for bogey.”
Come Saturday he was back on song, picking up nine birdies which was a Major record for him, and it could have been a first 62 in the big ones but for three three-putts and some sloppy mistakes.
“It could have been in the low 60s and possibly broken the major record,” Mickelson said. “That would have been special, but you just can’t make those kind of mistakes.”
Mickelson signed off his Major year with a 69 and a tie for 18th and, with his second place at Augusta, this was his eighth straight season he has recorded a Major top-5 finish.
And still the US Open eludes him.
Iwata a whisker from first 62
One player who had a more legitimate claim to break the Major 63 hoodoo was the unlikely Hiroshi Iwata.
The World No 102 had a 30-yard pitch which slid by the hole and he signed for a 63, the 27th in Major history.
After improving on his first round by 14 shots he was asked how this nine-under blitz compared to his 62 in Thailand earlier in the year.
“Just one shot different.”
At the other end of the scale John Daly recorded his 17th double-figured score when his round went to pieces at the 7th on day two.
His tee shot found Lake Michigan, as did his next two after taking a drop, and his club then joined his three balls when he helicoptered it into the aqua. He then bailed out left and signed for a 10. He finished with an 81.
“Your body goes into a little shock after that. I know we all go through this; I seem to go through it more than anybody.”
Of the club throw he added: “Reflex. It’s nothing more than reflex. It’s like getting made when you write a bad story. Or slamming down when the kids aren’t listening.
“I’ve always said throwing a club shows you care. I know it’s not the right thing to do.”
Jordan Spieth in the 2015 Majors
Masters: 64-66-70-70 -18 W
US Open: 68-67-71-69 -5 W
Open: 67-72-66-69 -14 T4
PGA: 71-67-65-68 -17 2nd
"I’ve always said throwing a club shows you care. I know it’s not the right thing to do" – John Daly
Rickie still waiting
You’ll remember Rickie Fowler’s Major efforts in 2014 – T5 at the Masters, T2 at both the US Open and Open Championship and T3 at the PGA. In the process he joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to finish in the top five at all four Majors.
His aggregate total was 32 under, five shots better two-time winner Rory McIlroy. At the start of this year he was, along with Rory, the player to watch.
The year brought his first victory for three years, and at the (fifth Major) Players Championship, but the Majors have told a different tale – T12 at Augusta, 81-73 at Chambers Bay (+14) and T30 at both the Open and PGA.
Part of the damage was done by the greenside bunker at the short 3rd – Fowler needing four shots to get out of it in a first-round 73.
The following day he birdied it and finished up at -4.
Big boy Anirban
To mark the start of the week the PGA hold a Long Drive competition to raise money for charity.
Martin Kaymer adopted the Happy Gilmore approach while the winner wasn’t Bubba Watson, who chose to enter after pathetically declining last year and hitting a 3-iron, but India’s Anirban Lahiri.
The two-time winner nailed a 327-yard effort.
Jason Day in the 2015 Majors
Masters: 67-74-71-75 -1 T28
US Open: 68-70-68-74 E T9
Open: 66-71-67-70 -14 T4
PGA: 68-67-66-67 -29 W
Tiger sees positives (as usual)
For the second straight Tiger got to play on a Saturday in the Majors, for the second straight Major it was only to finish off a delayed second round.
After the highs of a top 20 at Augusta this was a third successive missed cut in the big four and this time he was two shots too many.
Needless to say there were some positive noises coming from the World No 286 but the stats show that he missed half the fairways in both rounds.
“I hit it good enough to be where I needed to be, but I putted awful,” Woods said. “And I finally figured something out today on the putting green, but the damage had already been done. Finally rolled the ball coming in, and unfortunately it was too little, too late.”
The thinking was that this would be his last official round on the PGA Tour for 2015 but he made a surprise move by entering this week’s Wyndham Championship to make a last-ditch bid to vault from 186th in the FedEx standings, at the start of the PGA week, to the top 125 or at least get four competitive rounds (and some more ‘reps’) under his belt.
End of the Major road for Stricker?
Steve Stricker said at the start of the week that this could be his final
Major – this was his 65th start and his 51st made cut.
The 48-year-old, who is from Wisconsin, revealed that he may also try to qualify for the US Open at Erin Hills when it comes to the state for the first time in two years.
Stricker, who had his wife on the bag this week and a new Scotty Cameron GoLo putter, replacing the trusted Odyssey White Hot, also added that the Ryder Cup captaincy might be an option in the years to come.
“Some day it will be nice,” Stricker said. “I don’t know if it will happen or not, but yeah, it would be nice. I’m learning a lot about that end of things, so it’s in the back of my mind that some day it would be fun to do.”
Stricker served as an assistant captain for Tom Watson at Gleneagles and will assist Jay Haas at this year’s Presidents Cup.