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The PGA Championship

August 15, 2010 - Al Stephenson

When the fourth of this year's majors came around this week, I thought I would write about Corey Pavin and Jim Gray.  After watching the final round today, I believe there are more and better stories to bring to print.  I'm not, however, ready to let the Pavin-Gray dispute go.

Corey Pavin is the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.  Eight players have qualified for the team and Pavin gets to pick the other four members of the team.  Jim Gray is a reporter, working currently for the Golf Channel, and he is best known for his messy interview with Pete Rose. 

Gray asked Rose several times if he had bet on baseball and wouldn't let the question die unanswered as Charlie Hustle refused to give a response.  Now Gray asked Pavin a legitimate question.  If Tiger Woods failed to qualify for the team, would Pavin use one of his captain's picks on Woods.  According to Gray, Pavin's response was "of course, he is the number one player in the world."  Gray reported the comment only to have it refuted a day later by Pavin.

Pavin denied saying it and was accosted by Gray after a media interview.  Gray called him a liar and purportedly suggested that Pavin was "going down."  I have trouble believing that Pavin's comment could have been taken out of context.  It appears that one of them is lying.  The question is, which one.  Stay tuned.

If you think that this squabble, Woods fall from grace and Phil Mickelson not being able to ascend to the world's number one ranking suggests that professional golf is in trouble, then you should have watched the final round today.  I believe it would change your mind.

From 360 yard plus drives, to clutch putts, to hole outs from all over the course, to a playoff for the title, it would appear that golf is alive and well.  It was an outstanding tournament and we didn't need Tiger to charge through the field on the last day to make things exciting.

If there was one sad note, it would have to be the two stroke penalty Dustin Johnson was given on the last hole that prevented him from making it a three-way playoff.  Johnson had led the U.S.Open at Pebble Beach in June after three rounds only to shoot 82 on Sunday and wonder what might have been.  Nick Watney did the same thing today shooting himself out of a chance at the title with an 81 after entering the day with a three stroke lead.

Johnson came to the 72nd hole with a one shot lead and pushed his drive way to the right beyond the gallery ropes.  His ball came to rest in a sandy area and with fans giving him a narrow tunnel to hit the ball, he flew the green.  An up and down would win the tournament, but after hitting a great chip shot, his eight foot putt just missed the cup.  A bogey and a three way playoff.  Or so we thought.

The rules committee gave Johnson a two stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker.  The sand he hit off of for his second shot was considered a bunker and the grounding of a club in a trap is illegal.  Johnson admitted that he never even though about being in a trap, nor did David Feherty, the CBS on course reporter who witnessed the shot from nearby.

It didn't look like a typical trap and it was an innocent though costly mistake.  If you want to know just how many bunkers there are at Whistling Straits, you may just have to go there and count them yourself.  For the last two years a man was hired to count them, and in both cases the guys quit out of frustration.  A tough call for tournament officials, but a correct one.  Dustin Johnson has to feel like the golf gods are against him.  A chance to win the U.S. Open and the PGA in the same year goes awry in a bizarre way.  I'm guessing he will win a major some day.  I also don't think it will be his only one.

Martin Kaymer from Germany beat Bubba Watson in the three hole aggregate playoff that is unique to the PGA and it was riveting golf.

The view from my seat would suggest that professional golf is just fine.  Tiger will likely make a comeback and Phil will win his share of tournaments and perhaps become the top ranked golfer soon.

Until those things happen, just enjoy the young guns of today.  They can really play this game too.

 

 
 

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