PGA Championship. Magnificent Rory McIlroy Makes It His.

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In one of the best finishes to a Major tournament, in gathering gloom at Valhalla in the PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy came through to make it his and picked up the Wanamaker Trophy.

US PGA Championship

Rory & Wanamaker Trophy / Getty Images

Rory carded a final round of -3 under par 68, to win by one shot at -16 under par, holding off a great challenge from a resurgent Phil Mickelson.

In a strange twist the final two groups played together down the final hole, because of the darkness closing in. There was some discussion about this turn of events, the TV pundits saying it would have to be the players decision to do this, but it appears that it was the officials who forced them to go ahead. Not all of the players agreed with this ruling.

Rory just wanted to get it done before nightfall;

” I wanted to win this thing and get out of here, I never dreamed I’d have a summer like this.”

Phil had a fine last round -5 under par 66, and so nearly made it, posting -15 under par, a remarkable effort from the other generation.

Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler tied for third position at -14 under par.

Apart from the muddled final hole everyone was in agreement about the quality of this competition.

Unforgettable” and “riveting ” said TV anchorman  Jim Nantz. His commentating partner for the day, Nick Faldo enthused, “There’s plenty of color, plenty of characters. It’s fantastic, electrifying.”

Another TV pundit Peter Oosterhuis replied to that comment “And plenty of talent” 

From Brandel Chamblee on Twitter, “One of the best majors I’ve ever seen.”

There will be plenty more comments about this tournament, quotes from players, but for now I just want to get this story out there.

 

 

PGA Championship. Rory Hangs On.

White Dragon GolfRory hangs on to the lead at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

PGA Championship at Valhalla

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory McIlroy hangs on to the lead at the PGA Championship after a late charge at Valhalla Golf Club saw him post a third round -4 under par 67  for a one shot advantage at -13 under for the tournament. Three late birdies at 15, 16 and 18 has given him that one shot lead to take into the final round tomorrow. Rory admitted that the chasing pack closed up on him today, and was thankful for those late birdies;

“The guys got pretty close to me at The Open and today and I was able to respond on the back nine. It’s not the biggest lead I’ve ever had but I am still in control of this tournament and it’s still a good position to be in.”

“I just knew I needed to make a couple of birdies coming down the back nine to keep the lead or at least be tied. The two birdies on 15 and 16 were huge.”

“It’s where I want to be, it’s the best place to be in a tournament. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The surprise package in second place is Bernd Wiesberger, who shot one of the low rounds of the day, a -6 under par 65 and hold second on his own at -12 under par. Playing alongside one of his hero’s, Phil Mickelson, inspired him today;

“It was a dream come true really, going out there with Phil, one of my heroes. I played beautifully today, I didn’t miss a lot of shots, set up a few nice opportunities on the last few holes especially. I’m very proud of myself the way I played.”

“It’s a completely new situation for me, only my second cut in a Major in six attempts, so I am quite a rookie in this particular situation. I have driven it really nicely this week and if I can do it again it will settle down the nerves and I am going to have fun tomorrow.”

Third spot belongs to Rickie Fowler, at -11 under par, Rickie carded a -4 under par  third round.

Tied in fourth is Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, both at -10 under par, and by no  means out of contention.

Jason made an incredible par from a swamp area on the 500 yard par 4 2nd hole, hitting with his shoes off;

“I was too lazy to actually get my shoes thrown over the creek. I either hit it in my bare feet or put my shoes on and have to take my shoes off. I was like, ‘We’re going to be behind, way behind. So I may as well hit it with no shoes on.’ It was a great four there, a lucky four.”

PGA Championship

Jason in the Jungle / Getty Image

Phil is suddenly enjoying his golf;

It’s so fun for me to be back in the thick of it, have a chance, being in contention heading into Sunday and not having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to tee off, if I get to tee off. So it’s been a nice change.”

” I need to play aggressive and make some confident swings early on and make some birdies. I’m going to be trying to make up ground on some guys that are playing really good golf and will be making birdies tomorrow. So I’ll have to make a lot of them.”

PGA Championship. Rory Rolls On, Westwood Wilts.

White Dragon GolfPGA Championship Rory McIlroy rolls on towards victory at the PGA Championship at Valhalla, while Lee Westwood wilted under the pressure.

PGA Championship Valhalla

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory carded a second round -4 under par 67 to top the leaderboard on -9 under par at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. He will take a one shot lead heading into the third round, moving day on Saturday, and said he was comfortable at being in front;

“I think I’ve had to learn to be a good front-runner, I maybe wasn’t quite comfortable in that position at the start of my career, especially 2011 in the Masters. I was four ahead and I wasn’t quite comfortable in that position.”

“It’s taken me a couple of years to grow into that and my mindset has stayed the same since that day at Augusta. If I’m two ahead going into the weekend here, I’m going to try to get three ahead, and if I’m three ahead, I’m going to try to get four ahead.”

“I’m just going to try to keep the pedal down and get as many ahead as possible. I went into protection mode once in my career and that did not work out very well so I said would never do it again.”

“I think it has happened to me for the better. I’ve put a little bit more time into my golf and refocused in a way. It’s the only thing I have, I’ve got my family and my friends, but I just immersed myself in my game.”

“I’ve practised hard and I’ve done all the right things and I’m reaping the rewards. Golf is the number one priority to me and while I’m on this run of form I want to try and keep it going as long as possible.”

“I’m going to keep working hard and try and get even better. Hopefully I can do that over the next few years and hopefully you’ll see golf like this more often from me.”

Tied in second place are Jason Day and Jim Furyk, both on -8 under par for the competition. Jason carded the best round of the day, a -6 under par 65, while Jim had a more modest -3 under par 68.

Lee Westwood wilted under pressure, carding +1 over par 72, dropping to -5 under par.

Phil Mickelson had a good day, -4 under par 67 and is currently tied in 7th position at -6 under par. He hopes to make the Ryder Cup Team on merit;

“I’ll be honest, there’s not too many people out of the mix. There’s still time now, and there’s still time between now and September 2 to show. There’s three tournaments between now and September 2. I don’t know how many tournaments these guys are going to play, but there’s still time. “

” It’s anybody’s guess who is going to make the team after Sunday this week, too. I’m going to make the team, Tom. I’m going to make the team. I don’t want you to have to use a pick to pick me.”

Tiger Woods missed the cut, whoever advised him to return to golf so soon after surgery needs their head examining. Tom Watson will be under enormous pressure to pick Tiger for the Ryder Cup Team, because if he excludes him Tom will become the most hated man in America. Tiger needs to withdraw himself from selection, and make life easier for Tom.

PGA Championship. It’s Tight at the Top

White Dragon GolfPGA Championship

It is tight at the top of the PGA Championship at Valhalla with three players tied at the end of play on the first day.

Lee Westwood at PGA Championship

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

Lee Westwood found some much-needed form to share the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. All three players carded a first round of -6 under par 65 at Valhalla Golf Course.

Lee spoke about the return to form, which started with a good showing last week, but his round here did include two bogey’s;

“Last week was a big week for me, I felt like I had turned the corner and I was starting to swing it a lot better but that’s no good unless you start converting it into low rounds. The first three rounds were frustrating because I played a lot better than three over.”

“Then obviously I got it going the final day, shot 63. I tried to keep it low-key in the practice rounds here, just playing nine holes each day, and carry that momentum through to the first round, which I’ve managed to do.”

 Kevin is another player who has suddenly clicked, with his bogey free opening round;

“I guess I was in a good rhythm out there. Drove the ball well, hit a lot of greens and gave myself some opportunities and I was able to take advantage of it, something that hasn’t happened a lot for me this year”

Ryan has also been out of the spotlight recently, but said he is playing well, just been waiting for a low round to come along;

 “After Colonial I felt like I was playing good golf, just couldn’t get a round in there. I missed a U.S. Open cut, but made the cut at the Scottish and British Open. Played decent in D.C., but couldn’t get that low round in there.”

 “So I knew my game was in good shape, it was just a matter of getting the result. It was nice to finally get a result out of it. It’s great knowing that I can come out tomorrow and keep moving forward and try to build on where I’m at. It’s hard to come out when you are struggling Thursday and you come out Friday knowing you got to shoot low to make the cut.”

The man everyone is talking about, Rory McIlroy has made a good start to this competition, he is one of five players who are just one shot off the lead at -5 under par. Rory’s round included a double bogey 7 on the  par 5 10th and followed that with a bogey at the very next hole, the par 3 11th. He responded well to those mishaps;

“I was really annoyed, the second shot on ten was actually a bit of a shock, it’s the worst shot I have hit the last few weeks. It came out of the blue and knocked me off track but to come back the way I did was great. I really needed that. It could have been a couple better but if those last few putts had dropped but 66 is a solid start.”

The others joining Rory on that -5 under par total are;  Jim Furyk, Chris Wood, Henrik Stenson and Edoardo Molinari.

The other player in the news is Tiger Woods, with his sore back, he did not play too well today, scoring a first round +3 over par 74, to be T109. He summed it all up thus;

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, and I didn’t get a putt to the hole. That’s not a good combo.”

PGA Championship. Furyk and Fluff In Front.

Jim Furyk and his caddie Fluff Cowans are in front of the field after the third round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in New York.

Furyk moves in front

Jim Furyk / Getty Images

Jim had a third round of -2 under par 68, which moved him to the top of the PGA Championship, and a one stroke advantage going into the final round tomorrow. Jim wobbled a bit on the last hole, with a poor tee shot, he counselled Fluff and the outcome was a having par saving putt, which he made;

” It was big, the birdie at 17 was great, to hit two good shots in there and make the putt, and on 18 I made a bad swing, but this week I have not let too much bother me. I was able to wedge it on and make par and it was a nice way to finish the day.”

Fluff Cowans is an ex Woods caddie, who has all the experience needed for a Major challenge. Another ex Woods caddie is Steve Williams, currently partnering Adam Scott, who is in tied fifth spot at -5 under par, just four shots off the lead. Wonder what Tiger would give to have either of these guys on his bag right now. Strangely Tiger does not like his caddies to become famous, in fact at the moment you get the feeling that he wants to do all the thinking for himself, just uses a caddie to carry the bag.

In second place at -8 under par is tobacco chewing and spitting Jason Dufner, even the TV commentators apologized for inadvertently screening a shot of Jason spitting out a wad. A +1 over par round for Jason was not what he was looking for today, but he did manage to recover from a poor start, suffering a double bogey six on the par 4 fifth hole. A bogey on eight saw him complete the front nine in 37, two over the card.

In third place is Swede Henrik Stenson, a -1 under par third round gave him a total of -7 under par, with a very good chance of winning tomorrow, and become the first Swede to win a Major;

“It would be lovely, but we’re still a long ways away from that. There’s no point thinking about tomorrow and thinking ahead of things. It’s all about going out and doing the same things. It’s going to be a big challenge again tomorrow to keep the mind in the right place, and if I can do that, I hope I can have a chance on the back nine. It’s a pretty packed leaderboard and there’s going to be a few guys with a good chance, so there’s no point thinking about the future. It’s about thinking about the shots I’m going to play and how to play them.” 

The defending Champion Rory McIlroy is at -3 under par, alongside Lee Westwood, both will need to go low tomorrow for a realistic chance of victory at the 95th PGA Championship. No chance at all for Tiger Woods (+4) or The Open Champion Phil Mickelson (+10). Phil will need to pull his socks up to avoid finishing last, at the moment only Gary Woodland is below him.

 

PGA Championship. Jason Jumps Ahead.

Jason Dufner jumped ahead of the pack at the conclusion of the second round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in New York.

Stronger than Oak

Jason Dufner / Getty Images

Jason fired a near record breaking second round at Oak Hill of -7 under pat 63 on the par 70 lay-out. to lead by two shots at -9 under par. On the last green he stood a 12 ft putt away from a shot at the lowest score in the 153 years of championship golf, sadly his effort did not even reach the hole;

“Probably the worst putt I hit of the day, which is a little disappointing, but all in all, it’s a 63, and name on top of the leaderboard. So that’s a great position to be playing from. It’s tough when you’re chasing history, you will be the first one to do something. I don’t think I’ve been the first to do anything in my life. So it was a little nerve-racking for a Friday. It’s usually the pressure you might feel toward the end of the tournament.”

Jason has two-shot lead over Masters Champion Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar, who are all tied at -7 under par.

Adam is full of confidence;

“I think the platform has never been better for me to go on and win multiple Majors. I guess you’ve got to take the confidence and form of winning a Major and run with it. I was hungry before the Masters and I might even have a bigger appetite after it. It might be greedy, but I feel like this is my time to get everything I want out of my career and I’m going to keep pushing until I do.”

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose are a shot further back at -6 under par for the championship, Justin is looking forward to the challenge of the next two days;

“I sit here today really relishing the opportunity on the weekend to try to win another Major with no hesitation, which there may have been a few years ago because you don’t know how it’s going to pan out or how you’re going to deal with it. It’s wonderful to be in this situation right now, talking about having done it, talking about feeling like you can win more, believing in yourself and not talking about how I hope it could happen this week. So I think that alone makes it easier.”

The cut was made at +3 a total of 143, this is the lowest at the PGA Championship since 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club, both Rory McIlroy (even) and Tiger Woods (+1) safely made it, but are a long way from the lead. Tiger admitted he will need a really low round tomorrow to get back on track;

“Obviously, I’m going to have to put together a really good weekend this golf course is pretty soft. It’s definitely gettable. Got to hit the ball in play and keep the ball near the hole so I can be aggressive with my putts.”

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Phil Mickelson also managed to make the cut, but at +2 over par thoughts of winning must have long gone.

Guys who did not make the cut include, Bubba Watson, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Y.E. Yang, Stewart Cink and Padraig Harrington.

PGA Championship, Oak Hill. Scott and Furyk Lead

Jim Furyk and Adam Scott lead the PGA Championship after the first round at Oak Hill Country Club in New York, both players were just one shot shy of the course record of 64, shared by Curtis Strange and Ben Hogan. 

Back into the fire

Jim Furyk and Adam Scott / Getty Images

Both Jim and Adam had opening rounds of -5 under par 65 on the par 70 Oak Hill lay-out. Adam carded five straight birdies early in his round, and said that was probably some of the best golf he has ever played;

” Probably the best run I’ve ever had, I just hit really nice shots and didn’t leave myself too much work. You have to take advantage of that if you’re feeling that. It was a dream start after kind of a nervous first couple of holes .Just got on a bit of a roll and hit a few shots close. I didn’t have too much putting to do. You’ve got to take advantage when it happens, because it doesn’t happen too much in the majors. Nothing to complain about in 65. I felt good out there today, I felt like I could swing freely and I was hitting all the shots that I wanted to hit. When you get something going for you in a major, sometimes you have got to be not afraid to get out of your own way and let go. I did that at Lytham, and I did that here for 10 or 11 holes. I put a lot into my game the last two years with a focus on the big tournaments, everyone around me has had the same focus, as well. We come here to do business.”

Jim was not too happy with his bogey on the last, but was pleased with the overall result of the day;

” Usually disappointed with ending the day on a bogey, but you know, 65, PGA, is not so bad.”

David Hearn and Lee Westwood are tied in third place at -4 under par, with six players on -3 under par, including Paul Casey who has not featured too well since his snowboarding accident, breaking a collar bone;

“It’s a while since my name has been up there. You don’t realise how much you miss something until it’s gone and sitting on the sofa watching the big events of the last year and a half I have had lots of extra motivation to get back. It added another reason for getting out there and working hard and things like Justin winning the US Open is good fuel for the fire. I got a bit lucky today with a couple of monster birdie putts from 50 feet and 33 feet on the fifth and seventh, but we’re off and running. I knew I had to get something going after the turn because I had got through the tough part of the course.”

Lee was happy with his performance;

“If you don’t hit it in the fairways, then you won’t score well, these guys are good. There are a lot of good players playing in the tournament. Somebody is going to hit it straight, and somebody is going to shoot a good score.”