Despite my best efforts (cheering, praying, rally caps, eating cheese) Steve Stricker did not get his first Major championship last Sunday. After Thursday's round, I almost felt like things had already slipped away when he carded a 2-over par 74, and the leader was at -6. But on Friday the weather came into play and a +1 (73) was almost 5 shots better than the scoring average of just over 78. 45 players shot 80 or worse that day (including Matt Kuchar- ouch!). At +3 he was still 7 shots back, but he made the cut and would be playing the weekend.
Unfortunately, Stricker had kind of a rollercoaster final round - 5 birdies were matched up again 4 bogeys and a -1 (71) wasn't enough to get in contention, although it did give him a very respectable T7 finish for the tournament.
What I didn't know until Monday morning was that a little bit better finish by Steve would have put him in the Top 8 in Ryder Cup points, which ended at the PGA. Phil Mickelson ended up 8th and now Stricker is going to need to be one of four Captain's picks in order to play. You'd think that's a lock, seeing that he's currently 10th in points, behind Hunter Mahan and in front of Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker and Bo VanPelt. But Captain Davis Love III might also be looking at Dustin Johnson and Bill Haas who are not that far behind either.
But Captain Love needs to know that I'm going to need a Stricker-Kuchar pairing this fall or someone is going to have some serious explaining to do!!
Whoops, I got a little sidetracked! Back to the 2012 PGA for a few paragraphs...
I'm really happy for Rory McIlory - it's hard to believe he's only 23 and a 2 time Major Champion, and I only say that because he has seemed to matured a lot in the past few years. His -13 final score consisted of 20 birdies and 7 bogeys...with 2 rounds being bogey free and 5 of the 7 bogeys coming on crazy weather Friday. He avoided mistakes, handled his flukey ball in the tree beautifully, and made clutch putt after clutch putt. While I know the TV announcers tried to make the best of Rory running away with the lead, but I actually enjoyed watching him in the final stretch hoping he would finish has strong as he could. And he did.
Speaking of TV coverage...once again I found myself disappointed in the coverage. Is it just me? I was fine seeing Tiger while he was in the hunt, but geez, he's 8 shots back and we're still seeing him and maybe 3 other guys. I saw Stricker once, and that was when they replayed him missing a par putt. Boo. Do they really not realize that people would like to see at least a shot or two from anyone in the Top 10 coming into the last 9? You can't tell me they don't have camera guys ready on every hole. And I don't need to see 30 seconds of Tiger lining up a putt - give me a shot I can watch! Okay, sorry, venting done.
Watching the PGA reminded me how absolutely lucky we've been to have had this even in Minnesota 2 times in the last 10 years...2002 and 2009 at Hazeltine National (which will be the Ryder Cup host in 2016, YAY!!) I may still be paying off my merchandise purchases from 2009! There's something special about getting to see the players live and to feel the excitement and respect in the crowd.
While I'm going to have to wait until 2013 to see Steve Stricker's Major, now is probably a good time to applaud the 4 great champions we had this year...
Bubba Watson, Masters Champion (what a fun tournament that was to watch!!)
Webb Simpson, US Open Champion (handled the pressure well watched as others fell)
Ernie Els, British Open Champion (proves that you should never give up because you just don't know what the rest of the guys are going to do).
Rory McIlory, PGA Champion (he had a good feeling going into the week and he was right on!)
And since I'm here, don't forget that this is the last week that PGA Tour players can work their way into the Top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list and advance to the playoffs. Players that don't make it will have to wait until the Fall Series starts the first week of October to play on the PGA Tour again (and remember this is the last year of that, too, next year the PGA Tour season will START in October!)
So while many of the A-listers might not be heading to Greensboro, NC for the Wyndham Championship this week, there will be plenty of drama and pressure for many of these guys hoping to the Barclay's next week. And if you're wondering who you might want to root for, well, on the outside looking in at the Top 125 are: 126-Brendan Steele, 127-Retief Goosen, 128-Heath Slocum, 129-YE Yang, 130-Gary Woodland and a special shot out to 134-Erik Compton. The guys fighting to hold their spots include 120-Jerry Kelly, 121-Boo Weekly, 122-Trevor Immelman (how moved inside the 125 with his showing at the PGA), 123-Jason Bohn, 124-Jhonattan Vegas, and 125-Rod Pampling.
Only 80 points separate 115th place from 135th place, so a win or good finish this week could move a player well within the points cutoff. So enjoy some golf this weekend and root for Erik Compton!
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Filed under: Davis Love III, Erik Compton, Steve Stricker, PGA Championship, FedEx Cup, Ernie Els, Cathy Erickson, Bubba Watson, Ryder Cup, Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson