Trying to find some symmetry between the PGA tournament, held this weekend past at Valhalla, and that won a half century ago by Kentuckian Bobby Nichols is a tough task.
Even for a guy silly enough to try. A guy cockamamie enough to find similarities between eating peanut butter and apples for breakfast and Sherman’s tromp through the Peach State.
Drawing parallels is a gnawing affliction. Who knows why I even attempt it.
Any similarity is surely not orange-obsessed Rickie Fowler. With his hip hop Puma ballcap and outrageously colored garb, fifty years back, he’d surely have been asked by the muckety mucks in charge at the Columbus (Ohio) C.C. to, you know, “perhaps wear something more appropriate to the situation of a major golfing event.”
Nor is it the amount of winnings pocketed by the victors. St. X grad Nichols earned the princely sum of $18 large for his wire to wire W. Baby faced Rory McIlroy will deposit 100 times that amount for his title, $1,800,000.00.
There is this familiarity. Nichols was chased that final Sunday by the game’s elite, a couple of first name notables. Arnie and Jack. Palmer and Nicklaus, who plundered his home course with a 64 on that final Sunday, were to their day as Ben Hogan and Slammin’ Sammy Snead had been to a previous era. As Rory and Rickie (Or Adam, or Henrik, or Dustin?) are to Lefty, who did his best Fat Jack impersonation Sunday, and Tiger, may he rest in peace, to the “era” which ended Sunday on Shelbyville Road with Rory’s third tourney title in the last month.
Like that final Sunday a half century ago, some of the best in the game came at Rory, the leader teeing off for the final 18. And they passed him, after the winner wobbled on the front side.
Then, McIlroy blasted that No, Fellas, I’m The Man second shot on the 10th, a roaring fairway wood that somehow skipped like a stone on a lake across Valhalla’s rain-soaked velcro turf. To a spot on the green within gimme eagle putt distance. Game on.
Two birdies and a steady six pars later, it was Game Over.
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The post tourney controversy is whether Valhalla played too easily? Whether it is even worthy of hosting this championship or the Ryder Cup again?
Legit questions, those. Though it will be of no consequence, since the Professional Golfers Association, the body that makes those decisions, just happens to be the owner in fee simple absolute of this golfing venue. Bottom line: They’ll be back.
And, yes, the course can use a tighten up. Narrow the fairways a few yards. Let the rough grow, if not to U.S. Open length, at least to a level that finding it is a penalty. Make 18 a par four.1
That said, the competitive play this weekend was scintillating. The course, we are wont to say, was the same for all.
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One guy’s opinion. Golf is the singular sport where it is significantly more fun to watch on TV than in person.
Different players in different situations on different holes. It’s hard to grasp and impossible to observe that when trudging about the links with a stool in hand.
Watching on the telly, especially with David Feherty punctuating the action with his uniquely pithy commentary,2 it was like watching match play. Actually it was like watching a heavyweight title fight. Rumble in the Rain Forest.
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I also thought the dramatic ending, with dusk overwhelming play, and the final twosome becoming a foursome, just added to the excitement.
Mickelson, despite some easily observed pique, and his playing partner Rickie Fowler, were gracious in comments about the situation. And McIlroy was equally as generous in his thanks to those two for not protesting the decision to allow them all to play out together.
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Of course, as the media is still inclined to do even though his time is obviously passed, the story on the day after the tournament was . . . Tiger.
Tom Watson did his Monday morning meet & greet on the matter of the Ryder Cup squad. Tiger’s still under consideration, he reiterated.
Watson’s consideration, to me, is laughable.
Woods’ denial of his situation and play, based on his post round comments, reminds me of the Norma Desmond fading silent screen star character in Billy Wilder’s classic “Sunset Boulevard.”
“And I promise you I’ll never desert you again because after ‘Salome’ we’ll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life! It always will be! Nothing else! Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!… All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
— Seedy K
1 thought on “Rory McIlroy Captures PGA After Dark: Some Afterthoughts”
As an avid golf fan, the 2014 PGA was the best golf major, at least since the heart of the Tiger Woods era, and maybe since the 2000 PGA— which, by chance, was also held at Valhalla.
Personally, I am not a big fan of the course; or any Jack Nicklaus course for that matter. Still, the Ryder Cup and the last 2 PGA’s have shown that permitting the players to exhibit the full scope of their skills is much more exciting than the US Open set ups which are like death marches and tend to lead to blow outs– ala Tiger’s big win at Pebble; or Rory at Congressional, or this year with Kaymer at Pinehurst.
Having been lucky enough to have attended a half dozen Masters, I will say this:
The Major’s at the V are as close to matching the thrills and excitement of the fabulous Augusta National as any other venue—with the possible exception of St. Andrews, the home of golf.
Unfortunately, in trying to “Tiger-Proof” the course, the Master’s has lost some of that back nine magic that transfixed a generation or two of golfers. The course is so long now that greens designed to hold nine irons and wedges are being played into with 4 irons and the like. The course just wasn’t meant to be played like that and the back nine thrills of eagles and birdie runs have been replaced with tedious, cautious shots more like those played at the US Open than at the “old” Masters when it was barely 6900 yards long, if that.
So, even if the course is “too easy” for the most elite players in the world, everything is relative. I would much rather watch one brilliant shot after another than chip outs from high rough and lag putts from 60 feet. Apparently the viewing public agrees as the ratings were lights out and the bloggers and comment writhers at numerous sites following the tourney in real time were all hanging on the edge of their seats,
The best of these was perhaps in the bleacher report(?), wherein one dude chimed in that his girl friend hates to watch golf, but she was glued to the tube for 4 hours Sunday. That’s what golf needs—for the best players to be able to play their best shots with the lead always up for grabs.
Now that was a golf tournament.
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