Stat attack!: PGA Championship review

By John AntoniniAugust 11, 2014, 2:07 am

It was well past gloaming at the PGA when Rory McIlroy won his second straight major and the fourth of his career.

Even if it was hard to see, there was no doubt the fans in Louisville saw something special.

If this victory wasn't a coronation of Rory McIlroy as one of the game’s all-time greats, he can certainly lay claim to being one of golf’s greatest young players.

He is the third-youngest player to win four majors in the modern era (since the inception of the Masters). He is the fifth player to win multiple majors in the same season at age 25 or younger. He is also the fourth player to win multiple PGA Championships before age 30.

And looking at the careers of the players he's being listed with, it's safe to say he's far from done.

Youngest players to win four majors in the modern era

 Player Age Fourth major
 Tiger Woods 24 years, six months, 24 days 2000 British Open
 Jack Nicklaus 25 years, 2 days, 21 months 1965 Masters
 Rory McIlroy 25 years, 3 months, 6 days 2014 PGA Championship
 Seve Ballesteros 27 years, 3 months, 14 days 1984 British Open

Multiple professional majors in one year at age 25 or younger

 Year Player Age Majors
 2014 Rory McIroy 25 British Open, PGA Championship
 2000 Tiger Woods 24 U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship
 1963 Jack Nicklaus 23 Masters, PGA Championship
 1926 Bobby Jones 24 U.S. Open, British Open
 1922 Gene Sarazen 20 U.S. Open, PGA Championship

Players with two PGA Championships before age 30

 Player PGA wins
 Rory McIlroy 2012, 2014
 Tiger Woods 1999, 2000
 Gene Sarazen 1922, 1923
 Walter Hagen 1921, 1924

McIlroy didn't run away from this field the way he did at his first two majors (2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship), or even his win at the 2014 British Open, where he held a six-stroke lead entering the final round, but he was never really threatened despite a two-stroke victory.

No, this time McIlroy had to claw his way through 72 tough holes, and made his way back from a three-stroke deficit midway through Sunday.

That comeback began with a birdie on the seventh hole, but really took flight on the par-5 10th hole when he hit a line drive with a fairway wood on his second shot that landed less than 10 feet from the hole.

McIlroy made the putt for eagle. It was a far cry from the first time he played the 10th (a double-bogey 7 on Thursday) and began what would be another back-nine charge for McIlroy.

He shot 32 on holes 10-18 Sunday and finished at 12-under for the week on the back, a set of holes that included six of the week's eight toughest holes.

It was the performance of the week on the back and it's worth noting that the last two PGA winners at Valhalla (Mark Brooks in 1996 and Tiger Woods in 2000) also led the field in back-nine scoring.

Scoring breakdown by nine among the PGA Championship leaders

 Player Front nine Back nine Total
 Rory McIlroy -4 -12 -16
 Phil Mickelson -10 -5 -15
 Rickie Fowler -8 -6 -14
 Henrik Stenson -10 -4 -14

McIlroy was the longest hitter off the tee at Valhalla, and he also nailed his approach shots, finishing fifth in the field in proximity to the hole on approach shots. He was also in the top 10 in the field in driving accuracy (hitting 41 of 56 fairways) and scrambling, where he missed the green and still made par or better almost three-fourths of the time.

Statistics for the leaders at the PGA Championship

 Player Distance Accuracy GIR Prox. to hole Scrambling Str. gained/putt.
 Rory
 McIlroy
315.6 (1) 73.21% (T-10) 69.44% (T-14) 30' 2" (5) 72.73% (T9) 1.093 (12)

 Phil
 Mickelson

290.8 (34) 62.50 (T-48) 63.89 (T-42) 32' 3" (17) 69.23 (T-19) 1.703 (6)
 Henrik
 Stenson
290.6 (35) 71.43 (T-17) 70.83 (13) 35' 9" (46) 71.43 (T-12) 2.291 (1)
 Rickie
 Fowler
302.6 (6) 67.86 (T-32) 66.66 (T-30) 34' 10" (36) 70.83 (14) 1.057 (13)

McIlroy joined Tiger Woods (2000 and 2006) as the only players to win the Summer Slam (British, WGC-Bridgestone and PGA) since the WGC events were created in 1999. He also joins Woods and Padraig Harrington as the only players since 1999 to win the British Open and the PGA Championship in the same year.

Players who have won the British Open and the PGA Championship in the same  year

 Year Player
 2014 Rory McIlroy
 2008 Padraig Harrington
 2006 Tiger Woods
 2000 Tiger Woods
 1994 Nick Price
 1924 Walter Hagen

McIlroy's victory shouldn't detract from what Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler accomplished at Valhalla. It was the ninth runner-up finish in a major for Mickelson, and it was enough for him to qualify for his 10th U.S. Ryder Cup team. For Fowler it was the fifth time this year he finished in the top five in a major championship, something only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have done in the past.

Most runner-up finishes in majors

 Player Runner-ups
 Jack Nicklaus 19
 Arnold Palmer 10
 Phil Mickelson 9
 Sam Snead 8
 Greg Norman 8
 Tom Watson 8

Players with top-five finishes in all four majors in one year 

 Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
 2014 Rickie Fowler 5 T2 T2 T3
 2005 Tiger Woods Won 2 Won T4
 2000 Tiger Woods 5 Won Won Won
 1972 Jack Nicklaus T3 T4 4 Won
 1971 Jack Nicklaus T2 2 T5 Won

 

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."