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PGA Championship humbled its players




In the same way the Players’ Championship became a matter of survival for the competitors due to crazy wind conditions, the PGA Championship also took its toll on the best players in the game with strong wind gusts and bunkers with pebbles.

Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x), who was due to win another major, prevailed with a final finishing round to claim the Wanamaker Trophy while younger, less experienced players could not maintain their consistency.

But say this about runnerup Will Zalatoris (Titleist Pro V1), who lost to Thomas in a playoff, he has yet to record a victory on the PGA Tour, but he’s played his best in majors. So, he’s someone to watch in the next two majors if he doesn’t win by then.

But anyone who is a fan of Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) had to feel sorry for him after he survived the cut but had to withdraw after the third round when his injured right leg simply made it physically impossible to continue.

As I noted in my last blog, this was not the Masters, a tournament he has won five times and knew the contours of the course. Though he won the PGA Championship on the Southern Hills course in 2007, this year’s version was remodelled from the one he knew. The wind certainly didn’t help, along with changing temperatures. So, if players in their 20s or early 30s in good, physical shape faltered, it was expecting a lot out of Woods to handle 72 holes. He fired a nine-over par in the third round, the worst of his career, and knew he had to quit rather than risk further injury. As I also said last week, if he makes the cut that’s great, anything else is a bonus. The end result seeing Woods hobble around and grimace was sad for so many reasons.

Will he try to play in the U.S. Open or The British Open? The U.S. Open is traditionally difficult because of the way the course is set up, and given that it’s only three weeks away you wonder if his body will be able to fully recuperate from the damage done at The PGA Championship. As for The British Open, it’s being played this year at the Old Course at St. Andrews, which is one of the most historic golf venues. It begins July 14, so the likelihood is he won’t be able to play in both tournaments. If he chooses The British Open, the conditions could be even more demanding than what the golfers faced last week in Oklahoma.

ROLL THE BONES: Of all the stories last week – and there were many – one of the most endearing was Thomas’ caddie Jim (Bones) Mackay. He left his full-time golf analyst job with NBC and the Golf Channel last February to work with Thomas. Mackay worked with Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) for 25 years before they parted ways in 2017. When Thomas, one of the best in the world, called to ask to caddie for him, he took the job.

It's ironic that Mickelson decided not to defend his historic title because he is still on a self-imposed hiatus following philosophical differences with the PGA Tour and controversial remarks he made about Saudi Arabia, while his former caddie wins the event. The golf gods certainly like to create interesting story lines.

I was wondering why the golf commentators were so pro-Thomas, more than any other golfer this season, and I guess they just wanted to see him win for their buddy Bones.

And this is twice this year that the importance of caddies has been a factor. Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1) has gone on a crazy run this PGA season, highlighted by his Masters win and world number one ranking, with a new caddie, Ted Scott. He had been on the bag for a long time for Bubba Watson (Titleist Pro V1x), including winning two Masters in three years and a dozen PGA Tour victories.

The more you watch the PGA Tour, especially with rules preventing the use of green-reading books, the more apparent it is just how important a caddie is to a player.

Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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