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Monday, August 11, 2014

The Limerick Summary: 2014 PGA Championship

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Mirim Lee got her first LPGA win in a playoff over Inbee Park at the Meijer LPGA Classic; Sadena Parks beat Jackie Stoelting in a playoff to win the New England Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour; Cameron Percy won the Price Cutter Charity Championshp on the Tour; Greg Machtaler won the Forces and Families Open on the PGA TOUR Canada; Gunn Charoenkul won the Yulongwan Yunnan Open on the PGA TOUR China; Ssu‐Chia Cheng won the Taiwan LPGA JING-DU Construction Open on the TLPGA; and Ji-Yai Shin won the Meiji Cup on the JLPGA (the Constructivist has details).

Rory with trophy in the dark

Golf has clearly entered a transitional phase. Not a passing of the torch, not a changing of the guard, but a full-blown transitional phase where legends, upcoming stars, and all the players in-between are stepping it up. If you needed any proof, all you had to do was watch the final round of this year's PGA Championship.

As recently as Friday, Tom Watson remarked that the US Ryder Cup team hopefuls were "falling like flies." And with Tiger, Matt Kuchar, and defending champion Jason Dufner out with back and neck problems, it looked as if we'd have a boring finish. Perhaps Rory would run away with it, we thought, or maybe Phil would find a little more magic. But nobody expected much, especially after so much rain fell and softened the course.

What we got was an all-out battle befitting a course called Valhalla, after the Norse Heaven where heroes went after dying in battle, and where the mighty Thor smashed his enemies with his hammer, Mjölnir. Instead of a handful of timid players trying to avoid mistakes, it seemed like players from every era rose to the challenge. The first to step up was Ernie Els, blistering the front nine with a bogey-free 30 and finishing with a 65 and a T7 finish. Then a number of players followed suit, posting 65s and 66s.

And finally the main contenders stepped up. At one point we saw 5 players tied for the lead, each making breathtaking shots to momentarily take the solo lead before another player snatched it away. At last the field narrowed to 4 players -- Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, and Henrik Stenson. The up-and-downs came so fast and furious that CBS struggled to keep up with them. Darkness fell as the 4 men hurried to finish their battle.

In the end, the final two holes determined the victor. Stenson fell back when he could do no better than par on the par-5 18th. Phil and Rickie both bogeyed 17 while Rory birdied it to take a 2-shot lead to 18. Even then, Phil nearly holed out for eagle on 18 to force a playoff. When he settled for birdie, Rory -- barely able to see from his lie in the greenside bunker -- was able to make par for the win.

This was the best major battle of the year, and perhaps the best PGA in many years -- even better than the Tiger-Bob May battle of 2000. It certainly set the stage for some serious play during the FedExCup Playoffs in a couple of weeks... and the Ryder Cup just after that. With Phil and Patrick Reed playing their way onto the team, Tom Watson will likely have all 3 Captain's Picks free to pick hot players from the next month.

In the meantime, it's time to reward the triumphant victor with his Limerick Summary. I'm sorry, Rory -- I'd have it delivered via Valkyrie, but I just don't have those kind of connections:
In Valhalla, the home of the brave
Where Thor’s warriors live (not the knaves),
Rory dropped his own hammer
And silenced the clamor
Concerning the golf world’s new wave.
The photo came from this page at

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