Our best major of the year is now in the books and Rory McIlroy is now a three-time major champion. I have a lot of thoughts about what played out in Hoylake.
Here are 11 of them:
1. No losers: Only one golfer hoisted a jug over his head on Sunday evening but everybody walked away looking like a champ. Rickie Fowler hung in, Adam Scott played great, even Sergio Garcia was immense.
If you have an event that can even make everyone root for a bruised and battered Sergio Garcia, you know it was a fine tournament.
2. Rory is special: I've written it before but I think Rory McIlroy is the only golfer alive who has a chance to become the next rock star.
I'm still not sure it will happen but if he wins, say, the PGA Championship at Valhalla and then turns to Augusta with the career slam in front of him, well, that will be something.
His talent is clearly prodigious -- 360-yard drives on the closing holes of a super-intense major? -- but he unlocked something this week that the great ones go to over and over. Not only was he physically better but he was mentally stronger than everyone else.
3. The Shot: 10 years from now if you ask me to recall a shot or a hole or something from this tournament, this will be the one:
The photos are even better:
4. Let's clone Rickie Fowler 11 times and take him to Gleneagles: That might be the United States' only hope for winning the Ryder Cup this year. More impressive than him shooting four rounds in the 60s (and losing) and becoming the first golfer since Tiger Woods in 2005 to finish top five at the first three majors of the season?
How about about this:
Of the 409 players in the three majors this year, Rickie Fowler has been beaten by SIX of them. He's beaten 98.53% of the fields.— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) July 20, 2014
5. Let's talk about Adam Scott: Scotty finished T5 after drawing the bad end of things on Thursday and Friday and still shot 12 under for the tournament. He's the most consistent major golfer on the planet right now:
6. Par 5s: McIlroy putted maybe as well as he ever has at a major but he also played the par 5s like they were par 4s. A comparison:
Tiger Woods in 2006: 18 under overall, 14 under on the par 5s
Rory McIlroy in 2014: 17 under overall, 12 under on the par 5s
Nobody all week was better.
7. Coolest moment: John Singleton roasting his drive on the first hole after qualifying while working in a resin factory was crushing in the coolest way. He almost eagled No. 18 on Friday, too.
ICYMI: John Singleton, the factory worker, birdied 3 of last 4 holes Friday. Left eagle putt on 18 short because tears were streaming.— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) July 19, 2014
8. Sunday funday: That was easily the most entertaining Sunday we've had at a major championship this year. The Masters was sort of sneaky boring down the stretch and the US Open was a complete and total rout.
Props to Fowler and Garcia for prodding McIlroy all the way in and not just dishing over the Claret Jug as if it were a foregone conclusion.
9. Let's find a middle ground with Tiger: I wrote the hell out of it on Sunday but we can't keep saying either "he's the best ever" or "he's toast forever." We have to find some solid footing somewhere in the middle of those two.
Tiger Woods is a great golfer who had a bad tournament because he just had back surgery and because sometimes great golfers have bad tournaments. He's no longer playing at a historically great clip, though, and likely never will again. There, I just saved you from reading 29 columns about him.
10. More Pro Tracer: Who doesn't want to see this on every shot?
11. PGA madness? We've had two boring majors and one solid major so far this year but we haven't had an epic one.
One wish for Valhalla? Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth all find fifth gear for four straight days. See what happens.