Wrapping Up The PGA Championship
This weekend, I think we started to see a serious changing of the guards in the 2010 P.G.A. Championship, one that had already begun to occur on the P.G.A. in general, but which was cemented when we saw a playoff between German upstart Martin Kaymer and the U.S.’ own Bubba Watson.
There was no Tiger Woods, no Phil Mickelson, not even an Ernie Els, whom it looked like was going to make a multi-day go of it at the labrynthine Whistling Straits course north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but who faded in the end.
No, it was time for the flatbelly twentysomethings from all parts of the globe.
Even China got in on this year’s P.G.A. (remembering it was a South Korean, Y.E. Yang, who beat Woods out of the title last year when Woods was still formidable).
Chinese golfer Wenchong Liang set a new course record on Saturday, a 64, before finishing the tournament tied for 8th.
The heartbreaker at this year’s tournament was, of course, what happened to Dustin Johnson.
Johnson, who had made quite a showing and hung in there throughout the tournament, made the mistake of grounding his club on 72nd hole, on number 18.
Johnson was standing in a bunker, seemingly along with a number of other folks in the gallery. And if you heard anything about the Straits course, Pete Dye and his team ensured there about an average of 60 sand bunkers per hole.
If you know anything about the rules of golf, you know that you can’t ground your club in a hazard, and in particular, in a sand bunker. In this case, the question was, how could one tell it was a bunker.
Even CBS golf analyst (and former PGA golfer) David Faherty joked that the bunker looked more like a manger than a sand trap.
But the P.G.A. rules committee had well-covered their tracks, explaining on the tournament rule sheet that there could be bunkers in play inside and outside the ropes, and that the bunker on 18, manger or not, was just like any other on the course.
This, of course, eliminated Johnson from what would have been a much more dramatic three-man playoff to decide the winner of this year’s P.G.A. Championship.
Though I’m in agreement there was some fuzzy ground there, it ultimately is up to the golfer to know the rules and to abide by them. Though some seem to be suggesting the P.G.A. rained on the playoff parade, it’s a gentleman’s game where true and honest golfers penalize themselves.
Johnson did the right thing. He stood down, took his lumps, missed the playoffs, and I think set the right precedent for future events, no matter the pain of missing the chance to win his first major.
The game of golf, especially in the competitive realm, is bigger than any individual player.
Yesterday’s ruling, and Johnson’s abiding by it, proves just how remarkable a game it can be.