I got very caught up in watching the final round of the PGA Championship yesterday as it evolved into a four horse race among Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Henrik Stenson, which McIlroy, as you know by now, eventually won by one shot over Mickelson.
This one had everything going for it, drama-wise:
- Would McIlroy continue the dominant streak that he has been on, having won the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone event in his last two starts?
- Would the crafty, but aging star, Mickelson, be able to pull off what would be his seventh Major victory?
- Would the emerging young star, Fowler, finally break through?
- Would the tall Swede, Stenson, who just happens to be the #4 ranked player in the world, steal the show from all of them?
As the back nine began with a birdie for Fowler, I thought that my Saturday morning pre-third round prediction that called for him to win the Championship was looking good. However, shortly thereafter, McIlroy, who was then three shots back, pulled off a shot from the tenth fairway from over 230 yards out to within seven feet of the cup, which he then drained for an eagle that got him to within one of Fowler and Mickelson. In retrospect, that was when this tournament was decided.
No doubt about it that Rory McIlroy, winner of three straight tournaments, the last two Majors, and four Majors by the age of 25 is now the best player currently trodding the world's fairways. The inevitable talk of "can he catch Jack" will now start up. Please, great as he is, let's hold off on that talk until he wins, let's say, four more Majors over the next three years.
As for Tiger Woods, who missed the cut, it is starting to look like he - and he will turn 39 this December - is becoming just another guy out there on Tour. Except for one thing. He had major surgery on his back just three and a half months ago. I have had that same surgery on my back, twice, and I can tell you that there is no way he should have been even playing in these recent tournaments, much less contending in them, much less winning them. He should not even try to play again until next year. My own thought is that Woods will win tournaments again, he may even win another Major, but he will not break Nicklaus' record of 18 Majors. That ship has sailed.
Just for the fun of it, I found myself "live Facebooking" the PGA Championship as events unfolded, and my posts were greeted with massive silences from the universe of my Facebook friends. I guess I should have sent out pictures of my neighbor's cat if I wanted to generate traffic. Apparently, golf tournaments just don't move the needle in the social media world.