2014 PGA: Day-Tripping, Advancing Austrian
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/9/14
The best way to describe the 2014 PGA Championship is exciting and intriguing. Even without Tiger Woods on the weekend, this tournament is full of excitement, a condensed leaderboard with several popular players and a few up-and-coming stars near the lead, and a talented golfer new to American audiences arrived with a flourish.
Still The LeaderThe Champion Golfer For The Year suffered two bogeys at the 8th and 12th holes, and momentarily surrendered the lead. But following a birdie at 15, Rory McIlroy stuck his approach at the 16th to about 24 inches for a second consecutive bird. At 17, McIlroy drove into a bunker, but still saved par. Perhaps annoyed by the result, McIlroy absolutely nuked his tee-shot at 18. After leaving his approach in a bunker, Rory blasted to eight feet and calmly sank the birdie putt to grab hold of the 54-hole lead by himself. McIlroy's 67 puts him in the final pairing of the day with an impressive young man who is relatively new to golf's biggest stages. ↓
Advancing AustrianIn our summary of Round 2 of the PGA Championship, we said that Austrian golfer Bernd Wiesberger needs some introduction. On Saturday, Wiesberger introduced himself to American golf fans — with power and finesse. Wiesberger stuck several approach shots to within a few feet on Saturday, but at the 17th hole, he electrified the galleries with an approach that almost went in, finishing mere inches away. His clean-and-impressive 65 was the lowest round of the day and left Wiesberger at -12 (201), just one shot behind McIlroy and in the final pairing with the Northern Irishman on Sunday afternoon.
Mature Beyond His YearsThe recently-shorn Rickie Fowler has been taking good care of business in 2014 — both on the golf course and off. But it is his on-course performance that stands out most. Well-known already this year for a T-5 at The Masters, a T-2 at the U.S. Open, and a T-2 at the Open Championship, Fowler almost holed his tee-shot at the par-3 3rd hole and sank the three-footer for bird. At the long 7th, Fowler's approach wound up in the right green-side bunker, but blasted across the green to three feet and made the bird. At the almost-as-long 10th hole, Fowler canned an 18-footer for birdie that, at the time, gave him a share of the lead. At the closing hole, Fowler had an eagle opportunity that just slid left at the jar, but gave him third place alone and a Sunday afternoon tee-time with some guy named Phil.
Catching FirePhil Mickelson became "Phil The Thrill" again on Saturday. At the long 7th with water in front, Mickelson found the green in two and gave him a birdie. But in the middle of his round, Mickelson found trouble. An excellent bunker shot allowed him to save par at the 10th, but he lost his proverbial footing with bogeys at 11 and 12. Mickelson then righted the ship with birds at four of the last five. Among them was a five-foot putt for birdie at 15 and a beautifully-struck approach at 16. Mickelson nearly gave the 18th green audience an electrifying moment, but his long eagle putt just burned the left edge.
Mr. Day's Wild RideThe second hole at Valhalla Golf Club is lined along the left side by a water hazard known as "Floyd's Fork." At the 2nd, Jason Day yanked his tee-shot so far to the left that it flew Floyd's Fork by at least ten yards and caused CBS-TV's on-course commentator David Feherty to help Day try to find his pellet — live on television:
Amazingly, they found Day's ball. Since Day was within a hazard, he was required to not ground his club, so the Aussie took a mighty lash and sent the ball scurrying across the fairway into the right rough.
Perhaps unbelievably, Day saved par.
Four birdies, two unfortunate bogeys, and ten steady pars later, Day was in the clubhouse with a 69, half of 4th place, and a 2:35 p.m. EDT tee-time with South African star Louis Oosthuizen on Sunday afternoon.
Also tied for 6th place with Oosthuizen are Sweden's Henrik Stenson, Finland's Mikko Ilonen, and the young American Ryan Palmer.
The Sunday Weather Forecast...calls for a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 10:00 a.m., which could toss a bit of a monkey-wrench into the schedule. Otherwise, skies will be overcast with a temperature around 85°F.
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Image via PGA of America
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