Just when you think golf is going to go all boring on us because we don't have Tiger to swoon over, you get the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. I'm guessing anyone with at least a slight interest in professional golf is still chattering away about how things played out over the past week.
Obviously the story of the Championship is Dustin Johnson and the infamous bunker shot on the 18th. Funny thing...I wasn't even watching it! My fantasy team pegged all its hopes on Rory McIlroy and when he missed his birdie putt on 18 I knew I was sunk...already late for a family dinner, I headed to my Aunt's instead of watching the end. I walk in the front door and everyone is leaning forward in their seats staring at the TV...and there I see DJ and Nick Watney in a room and Dustin is not looking like he just won a Major...it's then that I get the full story...wow!
There is really a lot to ponder when you think of the events and decisions that led up to that 4-iron touching some sand on Dustin's last hole in regulation. Rewind back to the beginning of the week. How is it possible that players and/or caddies didn't think it was important enough to read through and understand the "local rules" for the week? Dustin all but admitted that he didn't read the sheet that has been posted all through the cyber-world explaining how to play from any one of the billion or so bunkers throughout the course, many of which may be outside the gallery ropes.
Have some people really gotten to the point where they expect everyone else to do all the work for them? Did they just expect that if something happened that was applicable there would be someone there to explain it? I'm baffled, and slightly bothered, that some players would think it's not worth the time to review the rules relating to the event. So that said, based on the rules that were in place at the time, Dustin's penalty was appropriate and, frankly, he was lucky that it came to his attention before he signed his scorecard.
Which brings up another piece of the pie - the timing of the shot, it being televised and observed by millions on TV, may have been the very reason it was "caught". I've read arguments that "no one else broke this rule all week" being countered by "that no one caught"...and I think that may very well be true - had this happened on Thursday or to someone way down the leader board, would anyone have even noticed?
Then there are those asking the question...did Dustin really have no idea, or did he figure out what he had done when he backed away from his stance after touching the sand? He says no, he was asking for a person to move, and I believe him. But if you read the blogosphere out there, there are many that don't. Regardless, he accepted his mistake (his really pricey mistake) and did it with a composure that impressed me.
So now the real question is...what about the rule in the first place? I stand by my first impression that the rule is well, stupid and unfair. Allowing areas of the course which are being pummeled by spectators and vehicles to be played as a bunker is just insane. I do not buy any of the arguments that "players shouldn't be rewarded for errant shots", or that "there isn't enough manpower to identify bunkers that are outside the gallery". I think you make it work...and you make them waste areas.
I read this morning on http://www.pgatour.com/ that when asked, the PGA of America is currently not considering the change for the 2015 PGA Championship. All I can say is thank goodness they have 5 years to put their thinking caps on and make a better choice. What do you think?
Just a few other PGA thoughts before we pack this Major away... I'm sad that Steve Stricker did not get his first Major win this week...it appears this course requires some creative shot making, so maybe it wasn't the right fit...Augusta 2011 baby!! How about Matt Kuchar??!! It would have been so awesome to see him in the mix on the weekend, but he just couldn't get close enough to the holes to make birdies. I loved watching him smile! I think a small part of me thought this might be the week Phil becomes the #1 in the world...but his game isn't ready. As peeved as I was when the online coverage made the Tiger Woods group the one they would follow, I was sort of hoping we would get to see the Tiger we used to know...there were glimpses, but no lasting memories. I bet Nick Watney is just a ltitle bit happy that Dustin took the spotlight on Sunday, Watney was hardly a thought as he slid down the leader board, and I couldn't help but feel bad for him..the last thing we needed was another "Mega Collapse" story following a tournament.
There are always players who are high on the OWGR that I don't really know, and Martin Kaymer was one of them...he proved this week that he deserves to be called one of the best golfers in the world. At 25, he's got a lot of great golf left in him, and I'll be checking him out more often! But honestly, I was rooting for Bubba in the playoff - there's something about him I just like...maybe his creative shots, maybe his emotions on his sleeve, maybe his passion for the game..or maybe a little of all of it. Can't wait to see him in the Ryder Cup!
I'm sure we'll still be talking PGA controversies for the days to come, but we've got Ryder Cup, the Fall Finish, the FedEx Cup playoffs, and Q-school to look forward to, too - I love golf.
Filed under: Tiger, Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship, Matt Kuchar, OWGR, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Whistling Straits, Bunker, Nick Watney, Martin Kaymer, Waste Area