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Last chance for major glory



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



  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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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open



Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills



GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).


Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

Special Galleries


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

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Tour Photo Galleries

Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings



We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

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

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19th Hole