The PGA Championship is the only major golf championship to feature a professional only field and boasts having the strongest field of the year. Yet for many, the PGA Championship ranks 4th in terms of majors you look forward to watching. The Masters, United States Open and Open Championship garners more attention from players and fans.
Yet this year the best may have been saved for last as the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club provided players and fans a lot of drama and amazing entertainment. For some, it was the cast of characters in the hunt on Sunday afternoon, or better yet, early evening. World #1, Rory McIlroy went from leading and being the hunted after 54 holes to hunter with 9 holes remaining. Rickie Fowler, having produced the best aggregate performance across all four majors in 2014, was in prime position to capture his first major championship. And then there was Phil Mickelson. Mickelson birdied 4 of his final 5 holes on Saturday to punch his ticket into the Sunday madness and wasted no time making a statement getting off to a fast start in his final round.
For others, the excitement came from how the golf course was set up by Kerry Haigh and the PGA of America. The PGA Championship is regarded by many as offering the most fair, yet challenging, course set-up in major championship golf. Valhalla gave up it’s fair share of red numbers this week, providing a platform for the top players in the world to showcase their skills with birdies and eagles instead of grinding for pars like is often the case at a U.S. Open or Open Championship.
Tiger Woods in the field always attracts the largest golf audience. Unfortunately Tiger’s stay only lasted a few days as he missed the cut and continues to battle health problems with a bad back.
Claims are being made across social media that golf has been saved by the likes of Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler. McIlroy is our new Tiger and Rickie is evolving into this generation’s Phil Mickelson. Rickie could likely have two major championships in his pocket if not for Rory playing a little bit better at the Open Championship and PGA Championship. Let’s not forget, less than two years ago, Nike anointed Rory McIlroy as their next global superstar. Expectations soared through the roof and McIlroy struggled to maintain balance on and off the golf course beginning in early 2013. Yet this time around, it feels as if McIlroy is ready to occupy the top spot in golf. He’s clearly earned the opportunity.