Medinah to Present Glorys Last Shot

By Associated PressAugust 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipThe PGA Championship is known as 'Glory's Last Shot,' a reminder to the strongest field of all Grand Slam events that this is the last chance of the year to capture a major championship.
For Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, it takes on a slightly different meaning.
Medinah is where they can make their last statement.
They have been the dominant players on the PGA Tour this year, reducing any notion of a Big Five to the definitive Big Two.
Mickelson won his second green jacket at the Masters, using two drivers as he dissected Augusta National and won comfortably by two shots. Woods collected his third claret jug at the British Open, his one driver more of a hood ornament than a weapon. He used it only once in 72 holes on the baked links of Royal Liverpool, winning by two shots.
In between, Geoff Ogilvy captured the U.S. Open, although Woods and Mickelson still managed to grab headlines - Woods by missing the cut for the first time in a major, Mickelson by throwing away a chance at his third straight major by making double bogey on the 18th hole at Winged Foot to lose by one.
In some respects, Medinah is for all the marbles.
A victory by either one likely would lock up player of the year. Mark O'Meara showed the value of two majors in 1998 when his Masters and British Open titles trumped David Duval winning four times and the money title.
The award would mean more to Mickelson because he never has won it in his 15 years on the PGA Tour, and it's been 10 years since he has had a chance as good as this one.
Woods, however, comes to Chicago with more confidence.
After taking two months off when his father died, then missing the cut at Winged Foot, Woods was nearly flawless at Hoylake in winning his 11th major championship. Two weeks later, he collected his 50th career title on the PGA Tour with a two-shot victory in the Buick Open, his fourth win this year.
But his work is not done.
'Having two World Golf Championships, the Tour Championship and a major championship ahead of us - four big events - anything can happen,' Woods said. 'Hopefully, I can get it done in those four events, especially in a couple of weeks.'
That was a reference to Medinah, a course that brings back good memories.
Seven years ago, Woods ended his longest drought in the majors with a one-shot victory in the PGA Championship. That set off an explosive romp that lasted three years, including a stretch when he won 18 of 36 tournaments and went seven of 11 in majors.
It's too early to tell whether this latest round of swing changes has prepared him for another big run, but considering how his last two starts have gone, Woods is on a high.
'Playing the way I played the last two tournaments is a lot more satisfying than hitting it all over the lot and contending, and if you're lucky enough, to win the tournament,' he said. 'Playing this way is a lot more fun. A lot less stress, too.'
Mickelson's best two years were not good enough to be player of the year.
He won four times in 1996 - remember, no majors until 2004 - and was leading the money list until British Open champion Tom Lehman won the season-ending Tour Championship to claim the money title, and the vote for player of the year. In 2004, when Lefty broke through with his first major and went 1-2-3-6 in the majors, he was trumped by Vijay Singh and his nine victories.
His hope is to hoist the heavy Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, although Mickelson isn't willing to look too far ahead in the race for player of the year.
'You're way ahead of me,' said Mickelson, whose other victory this year was by 13 shots at the BellSouth Classic. 'I have a couple of tournaments here, and I'm just trying to play well.'
Not to be forgotten is Ogilvy, the 29-year-old Aussie with no weakness and his first major. He didn't get much credit for winning at Winged Foot, especially with Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie each taking double bogey on the last hole. But he did get up-down for par on the final hole, and his credentials include a World Golf Championship for winning the Match Play title at La Costa in February.
But, going into the PGA Championship, even Ogilvy says it's all about Woods and Mickelson.
'I wouldn't vote for me at the moment,' he said. 'I would vote for Phil or Tiger at this point. Tiger at the British Open, and Phil's performance was impressive. I'd have to win the PGA or Firestone or The Tour Championship. It would have to be a a really big one because I think Tiger would definitely be in front of me at the moment.'
Don't forget the other guys.
'Glory's Last Shot' takes on a literal meaning for the likes of Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Singh, all of whom would love to add to their collection of major titles; and for Sergio Garcia, Chris DiMarco and Adam Scott, all desperate for their first major.
Furyk also had a chance to win at Winged Foot until missing a five-foot par putt on the 18th hole. He was two shots behind going into the last round at the British Open, stumbled early and never recovered on his way to a fourth-place finish.
Singh has only one victory this year (Barclays Classic) and has not been a serious factor at any of the majors. Els looked lifeless until a bold attempt at Royal Liverpool, holding his own against Woods while paired in the final group of the third round, before stalling in the fourth round to finish third. Even so, his hopes are high.
'I'm playing good, I'm swinging well,' Els said at the International. 'I haven't given too much thought to next week yet. I just want to play well this week and go into next week in a positive frame of mind.'
The PGA Championship has the strongest field of all the majors, limited only to professionals - 131 tour pros and 25 club pros - and usually getting about 90 of the top 100 from the world ranking.
All of them will face the longest course ever in a major championship, a record that seems to get broken by some major every year. Woods led the field in driving distance at Medinah in the '99 PGA Championship at 308.3 yards, the only player to average more than 300 yards that week. That probably won't be the case this time, not with so many big bashers on tour.
And it's a safe bet the head cover will come off Woods' driver more than once.
Medinah has been stretched to 7,561 yards and plays as a par 72. The humidity of late summer generally keeps the PGA Championship from playing as firm and fast as a U.S. Open.
Mickelson kept to his routine of studying every facet of Medinah during long practice sessions, just as he did at Augusta National, Winged Foot and Royal Liverpool.
The only surprise was the traffic at Medinah.
'There were a lot of guys over there,' Mickelson said.
He has learned that knowing a course means nothing without good play. This being the final major of the year, Mickelson would like nothing better than for his game to hit its stride.
'There is never a secret,' he said. 'It always comes down to execution.'

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

    Getty Images

    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

    Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.