It's a star-studded affair at the final round of the PGA Championship, as players like Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson are all within four strokes of leader Rory McIlroy. The Irishman, who came into Valhalla having won two tournaments in a row (including the Open Championship) will not be an easy man to catch, however.
But will anybody catch him? And how can you catch all of the day's action as it unfolds? Those answers and more shall be revealed below, my friends.
|General Play||11 a.m. to 2 p.m.||TNT|
|General Play||2 p.m. to 7 p.m.||CBS|
|Marquee Group, Par 3 and General Play||10:11 a.m.||PGA.com streaming|
McIlroy is going to win the 2014 PGA Championship. How's that for anticlimactic?
The truth is, nobody in the world is playing better golf at the moment, and McIlroy has been clinically consistent thus far, shooting a 66 and then two 67s. He's had exactly two bogeys or worse all three days (the worst was his double-bogey on No. 10 Thursday).
It's hard to imagine anyone beating him when he's playing like this, via the PGA Tour on Twitter:
508-yard par 4? Here's Rory going driver, 9-iron to 2 feet. http://t.co/2TamvRgTP9— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 10, 2014
And what's so scary for the field is that on both Thursday and Sunday, McIlroy hasn't appeared to be at his very best. Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com has more on McIlroy's Saturday:
Three birdies in his last four holes—a finishing kick reminiscent of his third round at Hoylake—sent McIlroy to 13-under 200 and gave him a one-shot lead over [Bernd Wiesberger].
Boy Wonder’s first three major titles were formalities. Not this time.
To prevail here, McIlroy will need more of the doggedness that he displayed Saturday, when he arrived with less than his best stuff, withstood challenges from his A-list pursuers and still nosed ahead for a one-shot cushion through 54 holes.
'A 67 that way is more pleasing than a 67 hitting every green and feeling like you’ve missed every putt,' he said.
Indeed, this will be a fight for McIlroy, who will be staring down a crowded field of talented pursuers that includes Fowler, who has been spectacular in majors this year (top-five finishes in all three, currently third). John Buccigross of ESPN put Fowler's form at majors this year in perspective:
Lowest Combined Score-To-Par - Majors This Year Rickie Fowler -29 Rory McIlroy -24 Adam Scott -16 Jim Furyk -16— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) August 10, 2014
If you think he's going to go down without a fight, think again. While Fowler hasn't been as consistent throughout the tournament as McIlroy, a 66 Friday and a 67 Saturday have him just two strokes behind McIlroy. Once again, a major is there for the taking.
One of these times, Fowler will take it. But it's hard to see McIlroy losing at the moment.
Mickelson, too, has come on strong, currently three strokes behind McIlroy after back-to-back 67s. If there is a wild card among the top contenders, it is Lefty, who is always capable of obliterating the field on any given day.
Can Mickelson not only overcome a three-stroke deficit, but also the poor form he's shown for much of the year?
It's certainly possible. It just doesn't seem terribly probable. He'll play well, no doubt, but not well enough to erase three strokes.
And then there is Day, the last player who seems likely to give the leader a real run for his money. Of course, it depends on which version of the golfer shows up. Will we get the player who shot 69s Thursday and Saturday or the player who shot a blistering 65 Friday?
And will we get to see any more shots like this (passed along by the PGA Tour on Twitter)?
One can only hope.
But watching McIlroy play of late, you just get the impression that we are in the midst of something truly special. The "Rory Era" feels like it has officially settled upon the golf world, and the rest of the field is simply being pushed aside.
Perhaps Fowler, or Mickelson, or Day or even Bernd Wiesberger can reverse that trend. But one guesses that very few betting men would put any money on it.