Weekly Tour Wrap Up 13th Aug
The fourth and final major of the year has now been completed, and even though the long, eight month void without and major action has now begun, we can console ourselves with the memories of one of the most dominant performances in the history of major championship golf.
At the 94th US PGA Championship, the most talented golfer in the world game stormed to a record-breaking eight-shot victory at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. In doing so, he won his second major championship, returned to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking and gave himself the perfect springboard ahead of the PGA Tour play-offs and one of the most highly-anticipated Ryder Cups since the competition’s inauguration in 1927.
There were no supplementary European or PGA Tour tournaments running concurrently to the fourth major of the year, but at the One Asia Tour's Thailand Open, Chris Wood won his first tournament since turning professional after his heroics at the 2008 Open Championship.
Masterful McIlroy wins PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy won his second major championship in the space of two years with a dominant display at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course, finishing on 13-under-par for an eight-shot victory at the PGA Championship.
Laid-back Swede Carl Pettersson led by one shot after round one, however, opening up with a six-under-par 66 in the placid conditions. He led McIlroy, fellow Swede Alex Noren, injury-prone American Gary Woodland and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano by one stroke, with the Ulsterman ominously making it round the Ocean Course without making a single bogey.
One shot further back on a good day of scoring were, amongst others, Graeme McDowell, the most consistent performer in 2012's majors, 1991 champion John Daly, who has no status on any golf tour, and Dutchman Joost Luiten, who was eight-under-par for his first 18 holes before finishing with four straight bogeys. Fourteen-time major champion Tiger Woods was lurking on three-under par after a solid opening 69.
The course had been there for the taking on day one, but heavy winds on Friday facilitated the most brutal of tests. Indeed, only four sub-par scores were recorded, with more players shooting in the 90s than in the 60s. Fijian veteran Vijay Singh was the only golfer to return a sub-70 round on day two, his superb 69 catapulting him from outside the top 30 into a tie for the lead. Woods was another who dealt adeptly with the treacherous conditions, returning a 71 to join Singh and overnight leader Pettersson (74) on four-under-par. Ian Poulter was a shot further back after a brilliant 71, a round he labelled one of the best of his career, with McIlroy (75) and the impressive debutant Jamie Donaldson sharing fifth place on two-under-par.
The wind subsided somewhat by the start of round three, offering players the chance to go low on 'moving day'. Justin Rose, who made the cut on four-over-par, was one of those to take advantage of the scoreable conditions, playing his first ten holes in five-under-par to go into red numbers for the tournament. As the leaders teed off, Bo Van Pelt and Steve Stricker were also going well, both matching Rose to be under par with a few holes of their third rounds remaining.
McIlroy, playing in the third-last group, made a good start to round three. He birdied two, three, five and seven to move to six-under-par and reach the turn in 32. Behind him, Vijay Singh had made a positive start but Woods had stumbled, dropping three shots in his first seven holes to fall back to one-under-par. Fortunately for a clearly disgruntled Tiger, the siren sounded as an electrical storm approached, bringing a premature close to the day.
Stricker and Van Pelt had managed to finish, though, and were well positioned on two and three-under-par respectively. Despite the placid Sunday morning conditions, not many players were able to take advantage. Poulter and Singh both fell back, but Woods was able to regroup somewhat and finish his third round on two-under-par. He sat in sixth place alongside journeyman European Tour professional David Lynn, one behind Van Pelt, Adam Scott, who was putting in an admirable performance after his Open collapse, and a resurgent Trevor Immelman. Pettersson played solid golf on Sunday morning to enter the final round on four-under-par, three behind McIlroy, who could, and should, have been out of sight.
Conditions were perfect at the start of the final round and, as the earlier starters showed, birdies were attainable. Miguel Angel Jimenez and Justin Rose teed off an hour or so before the leaders, and both played the first three holes in three-under-par.
Ian Poulter, starting the final round on one-under-par, was obviously inspired by his close friend, and matched his birdie-birdie-birdie start. Poulter, though, had no intention of stopping there. He holed a 25-footer for another on four and added a fifth consecutive birdie on the tough par 3 5th. As McIlroy was playing the second hole, his lead had been cut to just one shot.
His third shot, after a wayward second, would set the tone for the day, however. Every time anyone got anywhere near him, he simply put his foot on the accelerator, as he showed with a fine birdie at two. He birdied three, and after another at the seventh hole, he had extended his advantage to four.
Poulter was still in touching distance at six-under-par after turning in 32, as was Carl Pettersson, who responded admirably to a two stroke penalty on the first hole for moving a lose impediment in a hazard by making four birdies over his next five holes. Up ahead, Rose birdied 13, 14 and 16 to reach seven under for the day, a remarkable round but one that was never going to threaten McIlroy.
Poulter still harboured ambitions of catching the Ulsterman, and birdied 11 and 12 to close the gap to just two. McIlroy showed no sign of nerves, however, and moved further ahead with birdie at 12. After Poulter bogeyed 13, 14 and 15, the 23-year-old was six clear.
Woods was nowhere to be seen, Scott wasn’t holing anything and Poulter had come unstuck: no one could touch McIlroy. He calmly birdied 16, parred 17 and strolled up the 18th knowing victory was his. He holed a 25-footer for birdie on the last for good measure to cap off one of the most flawless displays in major history. In a sensational sub-plot, David Lynn finished alone in second in his first PGA Championship, dwarfing his previous biggest pay check by more than $600,000.
Next week, the European Tour takes a break, with the PGA Tour heading to North Carolina for the Wyndham Championship, where Webb Simpson defends.
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