Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Could This Be The Most Interesting PGA Championship Ever?
Normally this is the poor man's major. It's the one that produces names like Shaun Micheel and David Toms and Rich Beem. It's the final major for a reason, mostly because it seems to be reserved for fourth place; an event that is only a major because the PGA made us believe it was major.
While it has given us some incredible battles at times (think Sergio Garcia-Tiger Woods in 1999), it has tossed us more clunkers than teeth-clinchers. But, it's 2010, and we have a ton of drama heading into Whistling Straits, a golf course that a Senior Tour friend of mine told me on Monday was, along with Kiawah Island, the hardest place he's ever played.
But this week isn't about the golf course or the field or the chance to be a major winner. This is all about Tiger Woods, just like it always is. The only difference is, this time it's the opposite of what we're used to. This week, we are wondering (hoping?) that Tiger can show us a glimpse of his old self before the year ends, and his disappears to whatever dark corner he seems to be hiding out this year. This PGA Championship has the opportunity to be as epic as any we've ever seen.
-- Tiger, the best golfer in the world, just finished up his worst performance as a professional, a week before the final major. He now hasn't finished in the top-10 in three straight events, and is close to finishing 2010 without a win, the first time he will do such a thing as a professional.
-- Phil Mickelson, the Robin to Tiger's Batman, had a chance at the Bridgestone Invitational to overtake Tiger as the top golfer in the game for the first time in his career, but failed miserably on Sunday, shooting an 8-over 78 that included just one birdie. Now, even with most of the negative focus sent Tiger's way, questions remain about the closing ability by Mr. Mickelson.
-- This week will decide if 2010 actually has a Player of the Year. It might be the most up-for-grabs award in the last 10 years, and just about anyone can win it with with a win at the PGA Championship: Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker ... any have a great shot at the Player of the Year if they can master Whistling Straits.
-- A chance for a young kid to breakthrough. Sure, we talk about this all the time, but it seems the stars are aligning for this to happen. If Mahan, McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler or Sean O'Hair won this week, it would be the story of the year on the PGA Tour not including Tiger Woods.
-- This PGA Championship will answer some serious questions about the Ryder Cup team. Most of the time, when it's this close to captain picking time, we have a good idea of the players they will go with. Not this year. There are between six and eight golfers that Corey Pavin could go with, and this major will help refine this list.
So, as you see, the PGA Championship will be exciting. Stay tuned, because it should be a fun ride.