Inside the Ropes A Week at the PGA Championship


The summer heat was unrelenting all week in Springfieldl, NJ during the 87th PGA Championship as players and fans trudged through the grounds of Baltusrol carrying their bottled water. Players had to adjust their sweat soaked polos before addressing their shots while fans stayed close to the tree line and the shade it offered. Relief from the heat was only temporary. Bad weather approached on Sunday, suspending play until 10:05 a.m. Monday morning giving the pros a chance to analyze their last few holes in hopes of securing a few more birdies.
It was a week full of ups and downs and surprises. One of the best turnarounds of the tournament has to go to Tiger Woods who posted a 5-over-par round on Thursday and was in jeopardy of missing the cut Friday. But as always Tiger rallied and put himself back in contention, finishing up with 2-under-par. Since he finished his Sunday round before the inclement weather rolled in, Tiger did not wait to see if he would be involved in a playoff since he was confident that the other players ahead of him would not bogey any of the upcoming holes.
The great play shown by Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn lent itself to an exciting Monday finish, which was a first in 20 years of the tournament. Elkington was a surprise contender who for the last few years has been out of the limelight. Two bouts with meningitis, various surgeries and a particularly unusual allergy to grass have made playing the past few years difficult. But this year there are no injuries or hospitalizations to report. We can hope that all health related issues are in the past and he can continue giving fans more edge of your seat Sunday rounds.
Denmarks Thomas Bjorn was hoping to become the first European to win the tournament in 75 years, following the footsteps of the Scotland-born legend Tommy Armour who won the championship in 1930. But a 20-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole lipped the cup and kept him tied with Elkington at 3-under-par.
In the end, no playoffs were necessary as Phil Mickelson took the Wanamaker Trophy with a 4-under-par in his fourth victory on the PGA Tour this year. His birdie on the 18th hole secured the title over runners-up Elkington and Bjorn. In what is now becoming a Classic Phil Style, all three of his young children ran out onto the putting green to congratulate their dad, followed by his wife Amy. Its a picture that speaks volumes of a man that the crowds just cant seem to get enough of.
With a win last year at the Masters, a win this year at the PGA Championship, can Mickelson, having two of the four Majors under his belt, bring home the coveted U.S. Open and British Open titles in 2006? We can only watch and see what unfolds.