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Last chance for major glory

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

The PGA Championship is thought to be the least prestigious of the four majors on Tour.  But it has something The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the Open Championship all do not have – combined.

One last chance.

When the iconic Wanamaker Trophy is raised triumphantly at the conclusion of the 94th PGA Championship by one of the 150-plus competitors, the strongest field of the season – the 2012 majors will all be in the books.  And that heightens the pressure with each consecutive day, with each consecutive hole — until everyone just runs out of holes to play.

Last call for drinks … bar closing down … gettin’ the shakes now.  Uh-oh.  One last chance for major glory at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

One last chance for redemption.

For Phil Mickelson, who cost himself the Masters and chance at history with a disastrous final day triple-bogey on the 4th hole at Augusta National earlier this year (highlighted by ill-advised decision making, sloppy execution, and two shots played right-handed with his iron upside-down).

“Phil being Phil” isn’t fun when it costs you a major.  “Lefty” has a chance to redeem himself for the one he left behind on hallowed grounds.

One last chance to get the monkey off your back.

For Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings much of last year and back atop this year, who missed three cuts in the last nine majors.  Donald knows there’s one glaring hole in his resume – winless on the sport’s biggest stages. That “elephant in his trophy room” belligerently grows bigger, more disruptive, and more hostile with each major he doesn’t win.  Donald can make the barbaric bulldozing beast disappear – in the blink of an eye – with just one victory, this week.

One last chance to erase recent painful memories.

For Jim Furyk, who surrendered his 54-hole U.S. Open lead in June, and tumbled from poised to poisoned in “a San Francisco minute” with two bogeys over the final three holes at Olympic to complete his agonizing collapse.  Furyk barely had time to stand before he suffered the backhand of cruel fate again at WGC-Bridgestone last week when his five foot playoff-forcing putt at No. 18 slid right, handing victory to Keegan Bradley.

“I’ve known it’s a cruel game for a long time,” Furyk said, suppressing his devastation afterwards.

But a Furyk victory this week at Kiawah Island would (hand over fist) take the image of a battered and broken man – who appeared to contemplate thrusting himself upon his “Fang” putter after that impaling double-bogey on the 18th green and release it gently into intemperate Atlantic winds.

Also, for Adam Scott, who let a four-shot lead in the Open Championship with four holes to play vanish faster than innocence.  Scott drew infamous comparisons to fellow Australian Greg Norman and his own ill-famed 1996 Masters demise for Scott’s final round performance at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Scott lipped out his three-foot par putt on No. 16, lost his approach shot in the wind (after a perfect drive) on No. 17, and then on No. 18 managed to find the single worst place to hit the ball on that hole – into foreboding 18-inch rough.  With his ball, and alongside his dreams of becoming a Claret Jug champion – Scott was rudely buried right there.

But no more parallels to “The Shark.”  Scott’s injuries and torments will heal in an instant, his confidence emerge unscathed.  If only Scott can manage this week to pull victory from the “jaws” of defeat – rather than defeat from the “jaws” of victory.

And of course one last chance to inch tantalizingly closer to this sport’s ultimate prize.

For Tiger Woods, who by his own admission knows breaking Jack Nicklaus’ pinnacle record for most major victories is a career endeavor.  Woods needs to haul one major victory every two years to overtake Nicklaus by the same age the 46-year old Jack was when he won that legendary, final, 18th major.

Woods is the odds on favorite to win his fifth PGA Championship this week at Kiawah.  And he’s the only player on Tour to notch three victories this season, probably good enough for “Player of the Year” (and certainly “Comeback Player of the Year”) honors when all is said and done.

But no matter how cool and collected the “Talented Mr. Woods” appears while talking about Jack’s record, he knows the window is closing on breaking it.  And Woods’ name again on the Wanamaker Trophy would go a long ways toward making the likelihood of him becoming the most proficient golfer in history more much realistic.

The field this week is a virtual “Who’s Who” of golf royalty, and includes the Top-10 players in each of the FedEx Cup standings, the Tour Money List, and the Official World Golf Rankings.  Teeing it up for this final major will be 28 winners on Tour this season, and 32 major winners.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley, as well as Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, to name just a few, are all in South Carolina looking to put their names on the Wanamaker Trophy as well.  And it would be foolish to look past any of them.

“It’s just catching the right guy at the right week and things can happen,” 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson said of winning majors.

This year’s British Open champion, Ernie Els, added, “A lot more players have chances to win major championships.”

And 2011 U.S. Open Champion Rory McIlory said that it’s basically the whole field now that has a chance to win on Tour.

The PGA Championship offers one last chance to make the season a successful one, on the strength of just this victory alone.  However that also means one last chance to fall flat, to meltdown, to throw one away – again.  For those players who’ve been on the 54-hole lead merry-go-round of misery this season, that means at best, the sky will stop falling for only one of them.

And for any one of the world’s greatest players in the field this week – at least some will be mocked by the growling winds of Kiawah Island, boisterously vanquished one by one – as they all journey through the bowels of this Pete Dye leviathan – looking for the season’s last chance for major glory.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

You can follow Pete on Twitter @TheGreekGrind and GolfWRX @GolfWRX

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. TheGreekGrind

    Aug 9, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Troy you’re right. There have been 16 different winners the past 16 majors, and 13 of them were first time winners. Bill Haas is an interesting pick.

    Despite Phil Mickelson’s struggles of late, he plays Pete Dye courses as well as anyone. And look out for Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar, who do as well

    I think we’re going to see a European winner.

  2. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 9, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Very tough to pick up winner in the final major of the season. So many players have a good shot at victory. I’m thinking another 1st time winner of a major as such has been the trend in recent years.

    I’ll go for Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Bill Haas or Adam Scott.

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REPORT: Tiger Woods to play in the Genesis Open on Feb 15

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Last season, Tiger Woods withdrew from a press conference at the Genesis Open due to back spasms. This season, Woods will reportedly play in the 2018 Genesis Open at Riviera C.C. in Pacific Palisades, California from February 15-18.

By withdrawing from the 2017 Genesis Open — an event which his Tiger Woods Foundation hosts — Woods ensured that a promising comeback was not to be. At the start of 2017, Woods committed to play in the Farmers Insurance Open, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic… an aggressive schedule for Woods, who hadn’t played much competitive golf in the previous year due to back injuries and surgeries. Things didn’t go as planned, however, as Woods missed the cut at the Farmers, withdrew after an opening-round 77 in Dubai, and withdrew from the Genesis Open and the Honda.

Since then, Woods has had spinal fusion surgery, and he recently finished T9 at the 18-player 2017 Hero World Challenge. It was there he showed the golfing world — and probably himself, too — that he can still compete among the world’s best golfers when he’s healthy.

At the Hero World Challenge, Woods was consistently hitting 179 mph of ball speed off the tee with his driver, and despite some early concerns with the wedge, he showed prowess around and on the greens. He was yip-less, fast, healthy, and finished 8-under through four rounds. A Tiger Woods comeback seems more plausible now than it has in three years.

Woods will continue to test his game at the 2017 Genesis Open — a start that will come 26 years after competing as a 16-year-old amateur in the 1992 Nissan Open at Riviera. Much like 26 years ago, Woods comes to Riviera as a golfer who needs to prove himself… it’s just that this time around, he has 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour wins to his name.

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Thursday’s Photos from the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.

The 20-team field includes some of the game’s legendary major champions, and their sons. Notable teams include John Daly/Little John Daly, Nick Faldo/Matthew Faldo, Tom Kite/David Kite, Bernhard Langer/Jason Langer, Greg Norman/Greg Norman Jr., Jack Nicklaus/Gary Nicklaus Jr., and Lee Trevino/Daniel Trevino.  The teams will compete in a scramble format over 36 holes to decide the winners of the Willie Park Trophy.

Last year, David Duval and his step-son Nick Karavites took home the trophy, and they are back in the field this year to defend.

Check out our photos below from this year’s event!

Thursday’s Photos

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos

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Friday’s Photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 QBE Shootout at Tiburon G.C. in Naples, Florida. Formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout, or the Shark Shootout, the unofficial event plays host to 24 of some of the world’s best golfers, competing in a two-person team competition. The format calls for 54 holes; first-round scramble, second-round modified alternate shot, and third-round fourball (or better ball).

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Here is a list of the teams:

  • Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland
  • Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele
  • Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner
  • Jason Dufner-Billy Horschel
  • Harris English-Matt Kuchar
  • Tony Finau-Lexi Thompson
  • Brian Harman-Pat Perez
  • Russell Henley-Kyle Stanley
  • Charley-Hoffman-Zach Johnson
  • Shane Lowry-Graeme McDowell
  • Brandt Snedeker-Bubba Watson
  • Sean O’Hair-Steve Stricker

Last year, Harris English and Matt Kuchar took down the crown, finishing at 28-under par for the event. Of course, they’ll be playing together again this year as the defending champs.

Check out our photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout below!

Friday’s Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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