PGA Championship 2011: 15 Reasons We Won't Forget About This Tournament
The week started out with the continuation of Tiger-Gate and finished with some of the best golf we had seen by virtual unknown players.
It also started with a 40-something American look like he would be able to tame the famed Rees Jones course with a record-tying 63 on the first day of competition.
This year's PGA Championship in Atlanta created more of a buzz for both what happened and did not happen than maybe any other golf tournament this year. And we are all sure this made Jim Nance of CBS very happy.
We saw a very tough course from the beginning and end with the last four holes giving almost every player in the field a fit at one time or another.
We saw a humbled Tiger Woods come to the realization he is not back to his playing standards—yet.
And of course, we saw players we may never have seen before, let alone heard of, prove there may be another pack of young, hungry American golfers who want to be the next breed of champions for the next decade.
If you missed it, here is a look at some of the things we will remember in the quest for the Wanamaker Cup.
Phil Mickelson Is Not Fond of Rees Jones' Design
Mickelson, the last American to win a major title, was critical of Rees Jones and the way he designed the course.
He wasn't critical of how it played for a major tournament, rather how it was designed for the members of the country club.
It is a course that is hard at the beginning (Tiger Woods went beach to beach in his first two shots on the second day of play), and treacherous at the end at holes 15-18.
Since when have you seen comments like that where a player is concerned for the common man who plays a game like this?
The Tree Was No Match for Rory McIlroy
When we saw Rory McIlroy try and hit the ball out of the ground and tackle the tree root, we learned more about him as a player.
Whether the challenge was smart or ill-fated (it may be the reason why he was never in contention this weekend), we learned something about him this weekend—mostly he is one tough son of a gun.
Some even argued that golf's rock star is a tougher player than Tiger Woods, but that still remains to be seen.
McIlroy's status in golf lore has been heightened by a tree root on the third hole of the course.
Steve Williams Finally Showed Some Contrition
There are times for a caddie to open his mouth and there are times to just be quiet.
This week was not a time for Steve Williams to open his mouth.
Still seething from the events of the past two weeks and the comments he made regarding Tiger Woods, Williams decided to finally swallow his tongue and help Adam Scott contend.
That was the best decision he made all week. Scott remained in contention all week.
Ryo Ishikawa's Collapse
If there was ever someone you wanted to take momentum from the previous week and make it work in a major tournament, it was Ishikawa.
After his stellar play in the Firestone, you hoped the teenager could have come out and lit the world on fire.
After the start on Thursday, he could never recover.
Steve Stricker's 63
He did not know he was one shot from holding a record all to himself.
The man who has been the most consistent American golfer this year showed such poise on the first day, shooting a 63.
He was surprised at the course, saying he had no preconceived notion about what to expect, went about his business and took the early lead.
Golfers over 40 Still Have Game
Steve Stricker wasn't the only on this weekend who had their moments on the course.
Davis Love III and David Toms showed they could remain in contention with the youngsters.
Even Jim Furyk got into the hunt.
Toms looked to duplicate the same magic he had 10 years ago in winning the PGA. Love and Furyk showed poise as they charged toward the top of the leaderboard before they finally fell back.
Adam Scott Will Win a Major Title
After he won the Firestone event last week, Scott was considered a contender and maybe the favorite going into the weekend.
Things did not turn out the way he had hoped by it showed that the combination of Scott and new caddie Steve Williams will be in contention each week they are on the course.
The best thing Scott now has for him is that Williams reads putts better than most any caddie.
This is the reason Scott will be a force for 2012.
Tiger Woods Is the Common Golfer
He started out with such a roar. Then he purred like a little kitten.
We saw raw emotion in him after his first two rounds. Almost like he wanted a mulligan to start over.
Woods needs six solid months of training and development of a game that made him the best in the game.
If he takes on the challenge of relearning and better yet, listening to coaches, etc., he can be the best again.
Four Horsemen: Some Challenge, Some Do Not
It is unfair to include McIlroy in this group, but the four best golfers in the world, all foreigners, never proved to be a challenge.
We expected them to come out and show their muster. Defending champion Martin Kaymer never made the cut and well, the tree got in Rory's way.
This opened the door for others to show they can play on par with the best.
Lee Westwood and Luke Donald were on the first page of the leaderboard to start the day, but both finished the tournament 3-under-par.
A New Charge by American Golfers
We hoped to see the likes of Bubba Watson, Nick Watney and Hunter Mahan lead the charge of Americans.
This time it was Scott Verplank, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele.
The state of American golf looks better if these golfers continue their development and have a bigger impact on the tour next season.
There Is No Clear Cut Top Golfer
The rankings may say Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer are the three best in the world, but this weekend proved that there is equality in men's golf.
Any week and any given time, someone can win and with the influx of men who played this past weekend (Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, etc.) we could see a changing of the guard soon.
I have been very critical of American golf and its direction.
I feel better about its future now.
Those Who Did Not Make the Cut
Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Jason Day.
The names who were not there Saturday and Sunday were just as impressive as those fighting for the championship.
It proves that on any given weekend, anyone can win with the right circumstances.
The Sand Was the Devil This Week
It seemed no matter who it was, every golfer had an issue with the sand. Whether shots hit into bunkers were on the surface or deep, the sand made it impossible to play and play well.
The course design made it difficult to hit a solid shot onto the greens and into the fairways for the contenders and changed the course of play all weekend.
Jason Dufner Put Up a Hell of a Fight
For most of the day, we thought Dufner would be the champion and showed his resolve until the last two holes of the tournament.
Dufner proved a worthy champion, but the final holes of the course took over. And heading into the playoff it clearly looked like Bradley had taken the momentum away from the man who was leader most of the afternoon.
A Rookie Wins the a Major for the First Time Since 1991
For the first time since 1991 when John Daily won the PGA Championship back in 1991, a rookie won a major golf tournament.
Keegan Bradley saved his best golf for the final holes of the day, most notably in the three-hole playoff.
Bradley had one win to his credit in his career (Byron Nelson Classic this year).
It also marked the first time since the 2010 Masters that an American won a major golf tournament.