10 thoughts on a wild final round of the 2014 PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy won the fourth major of his career in astounding fashion over Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Henrik Stenson on Sunday.
I'm not sure 100 thoughts would be enough but let's try to get through this together. "This" being the greatest golf tournament of the last five (10?) years, the 2014 PGA Championship.
Rory McIlroy held off Phil Mickelson by one and Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson by two to win the fourth major of his career on Sunday night at Valhalla.
1. Rory McIlroy is a closer: I messaged Yahoo Sports golf writer Shane Bacon when McIlroy was on No. 9 and said it looked like there was negative energy in his pairing with Bernd Wiesberger. Then he hit this unbelievable shot on No. 10 (that he said afterwards was "about 30 feet lower" than he meant to hit) that led to eagle and shut the door with a back-nine 32.
He sure showed me who lacked energy.
Compare his back-nine 32 to Phil Mickelson's 35, Rickie Fowler's 36, and Henrik Stenson's 36. Those other guys were great this week, McIlroy was just greater.
2. Phil Mickelson was electric: You kind of knew when Lefty birdied two of the first three to get within one we were in for a wild ride. Then he almost chipped in twice on two of the final three holes. The one that lipped out on No. 16 for birdie ended up as a bogey and then the one one in the dark on No. 18 would have been probably one of the 10 best shots in golf history.
Here it is:
I'm still catching my breath.
3. Rickie Fowler gets nothing but a round of applause: Fowler played great but started leaking at the end with his irons and driver. I don't know if it was nerves but he couldn't shut it down. Still, he joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers in the modern era to finish top five at all four majors in a single season.
4. The finish: I'm not sure what to make of the finish in the dark. I'm not really sure who was in charge of all that madness. It certainly wasn't Mickelson if his reaction was any indication.
I know he took the high road afterwards but how much does the way everything played out change the ending?
There's not a rule against it, of course, but as most people were saying it's a wake-up call to some of these tournaments to get things cranking earlier in the day on the weekends.
5. This photo: Rory watching Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler on the back nine as Phil saved par from about 35 feet. It might be my favorite photo of the tournament:
This is your photo of the tournament - pic.twitter.com/PoVdT7E1Xd— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) August 10, 2014
6. Valhalla has been tremendous: People love to roll on Valhalla and its fake waterfalls but it's given us three of the most memorable tournaments of the last 20 years. The 2000 PGA Championship, 2008 Ryder Cup, and 2014 PGA Championship.
I don't land on either side of the "I love the PGA because it produces birdies vs. I love the US Open because it's a real test" argument. I love them both if big names are trading haymakers and this week that was all that was happening.
Make the course par 900 for all I care, just give me drama on Sunday.
7. These three GIFs: These three were tied for the best of the day. Glorious, all of them.
8. Rory's best win: This was McIlroy's best win and it's not even close. I'm terrified about what he can do by adding a large dose of "back-nine-in-majors" confidence to his already-unholy swing and sweet putting stroke.
He said it himself afterward.
"It means that I know that I can do it. I know that I can mix it up with the best players in the world down the stretch of a major and come out on top."
Uh oh, world.
9. Best major since...? This has to be the best major since the 2008 US Open, doesn't it? The sheer weight of the names at the top, the way McIlroy closed, all the quirky stuff that happened down the stretch, and a great, historic champion.
I think it topped the YE Yang win in 2009. Barely.
10. Rory Era? My colleague Gregg Doyel wrote a piece tonight tagging Rory as better than Tiger was. I'm not sure if I'm ready to go that far and I think history decides eras, not us in the present tense, but there's certainly a shift taking place in the golf world.
McIlroy is adding so many things to his arsenal it took so long for so many greats to add. Consider: 18 golfers in the modern era have won four or more majors. Eight of those didn't win their first until after age 25 and Rory already has all four.
Is he the future? I don't know, but he's sure as hell the present.
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