by Jeff Skinner
The closing holes of The PGA Championship were some of the most exciting of the entire major season. It looked like the 2010 major season would end with a bang. Unfortunately, the day ended with resounding thud as Dustin Johnson’s mishap in a “bunker” deflated what was to be a spectacular finish.
The day started strangely. It looked like the U.S. Open with the leader stumbling out of the gate. When leader Nick Watney opened with a double bogey and went three over par after just four holes he was done for the day. As play wound down to the conclusion it looked to be one of the most exciting finishes in major championship history. Sure, there was no Tiger or Phil in the hunt but there were a half dozen players in position to take the 92nd PGA Championship.
Bubba Watson had birdied 13, 14 and 16 to get to five under for the day and get back in the race. Martin Kaymer had played flawless golf and was as solid as any player on the course until a bogey on 15. Zach Johnson had a birdie putt on 18 to get to 11 under and join the playoff. Rory McIlroy could have been around for the playoff if he had birdied one of his last two holes. Dustin Johnson looked like he was ready to claim the major that he squandered at Pebble Beach. Even Steve Elkington was making noise until consecutive bogeys on 17 and 18 left him two strokes short of the playoff. The stage was set for a wild finish and it looked like the young guns were going to claim another major.
Johnson had a one stroke lead when his tee ball at 18 went horribly right. His iron from the sandy lie went short and left of the green into deep rough. With Watson and Kaymer in the house at 11 under Johnson needed to get up and down from the thick rough to win his first major championship. Johnson’s short game gets overlooked because of his tremendous length but he has a great touch and landed the ball about eight feet from the hole. When he addressed the putt he and all of us thought he was putting for the title. When he missed he was ready to go to the play off with Kaymer and Watson. That’s when he was told of his rules violation in the “bunker” during his second shot on eighteen.
As Johnson and the PGA officials sorted things out the air seeped out of the PGA Championship’s balloon. When Kaymer and Watson teed off to start the three hole playoff the focus was on Johnson and his unlucky break in that so called bunker. To say the playoff was anti-climatic is an understatement. It almost seemed like an afterthought. This isn’t to take anything away from Kaymer. He is a very good player and a class guy. With five European tour wins and a major at 25 years old he will be a force to be reckoned with on all the tours. Kaymer played well and was the last man standing on a grueling day over a difficult course. He beat the strongest field of the year and we’ll see him on the European Ryder Cup Team.
Martin Kaymer’s win continued the trend of first time, young golfers capturing major championship. The youth movement is alive and well in golf.
Kaymer may well be the games next superstar but his first major will forever be remembered as the one where Dustin Johnson got screwed when he grounded his club on a patch of sand that was surrounded by fans and The PGA called a bunker.