The 100th USPGA Championship concluded last night at the Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri. A centenary is always a distinguished landmark but for what the PGA of America used to call its tournament, ‘Glory’s Last Shot’ (that is until the PGA Tour talked them out of it because it sounded like it was trying to demean the FedEx Cup), there was precious little glory in staging the event on a ho-hum golf course. Furthermore, they did quite a lot to demean their own property with the attitude they displayed regarding its dissemination outside the United States.
This issue was not confined to the UK but let’s just concentrate on that. Let someone in Latin America complain about the mess in Mexico. For sure the future of sports broadcasting may well be online but, as the owners of one of the four most prestigious titles in the game, surely the PGA of America owes it to that game to showcase its product with at least some degree of interest in the well-being of said game? Sticking it on what is effectively an internet start-up as part of a package to promote the latter’s upcoming coverage of Spanish and Italian football doesn’t seem to do a lot for golf. It remains to be seen how much good it did for Eleven Sports but what the PGA of America had done was to ensure that the fourth major had become the invisible major…
…which was a pity given what a tremendous tournament it turned out to be. Brooks Koepka won his second major in as many months, and his third in 14 months, by beating Tiger Woods by two shots. Yes, what looked as if it might happen heading into the back nine at Carnoustie last month came a lot closer to fruition here. But the recent double-US Open champ came through with clutch birdies at the 15th and 16th. Woods birdied the last from 15 feet to conclude with a six-under-par 64 but Koepka had enough in hand to get him over the line. His total of 264, 16 under par, was the joint-lowest in any major championship.
Koepka had not played in the Masters due to a wrist injury that sidelined him for nearly four months. “My doctors, physics, trainers did an unbelievable job even to get me back out on the golf course.” he said. “Three majors at 28 – it’s a cool feeling. I’m excited about the next few years.” Woods was philosophical about the near-miss. “This one I never quite got the lead [unlike at Carnoustie]. I was always trailing.” As for the victor: “I played with him in a practice round and he was hitting it 340, 350 yards in the air. When a guy’s doing that and hitting it straight and as good a putter as he is, it’s tough to beat.” It’s now impossible to imagine that next month the two men won’t be colleagues on the American Ryder Cup team in Paris.
Finally, you will probably have read about the cock-up involving Tommy Fleetwood’s prize-money of £120,000 for finishing tied 12th in the Open Championship. Although the R&A runs the Open, the European Tour is apparently responsible for making sure the dosh goes in the right direction. In this case, they put Tommy’s into the bank account of one Thomas Fleetwood, a 58-year-old American who “tried to get on [the European] seniors tour, so they have my bank information”. This matter has probably been resolved by now but looking through the list of results from Bellerive a small detail caught my eye. There were two Zach Johnsons in the field! There was the one you’ve heard of, the one who’s won the Open and the Masters, who finished in a tie for 19th. The other one, Zach J. Johnson, shot five over par for two rounds and missed the cut. Given what’s been going on with the PGA of America and its major championship, if I were the more celebrated Zach I’d be checking my bank account pronto.
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