The stage may be set for somebody to have his heart broken in a major collapse at next week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee can foresee a nightmarish finish lying in wait for the leaders come Sunday on Pete Dye’s demanding design.
Chamblee has played the course, though not in the kind of major championship condition it will be set up next week.
“I'm not as familiar with it as some of the other major championship venues, but what I remember is typical of a Pete Dye golf course, very intimidating,” Chamblee said Friday in a special Golf Channel media teleconference in advance of the PGA Championship. “And, it is, towards the finish, extremely difficult.”
Chamblee believes all the trouble designed into the Dye course could combine with major championship pressure and difficult seaside weather to create some player’s ruin.
“You put all of that together, and there's a likelihood, not to bring up a sore spot for Mark Calcavecchia, but there's a likelihood that we are going to see a meltdown similar to what we saw in the 1991 Ryder Cup,” Chamblee said. “Throughout his career, Mark Calcavecchia was known as a player who could close the deal, who could shoot some unbelievably low scores.”
Four up with four holes to play in Sunday singles of the 1991 Ryder Cup, the American Calcavecchia collapsed, halving his match to Colin Montgomerie. Calcavecchia stumbled down to the beach afterward and wept. The Americans did ultimately win, however.
“Talked to Lanny Wadkins this morning,” Chamblee said. “Lanny is a guy who could close the deal and was known for his mental strength. He said after a couple of days at The Ryder Cup, he had never felt so mentally exhausted as he felt that week.”
Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo took a scouting trip to Kiawah Island on Monday and Tuesday for the network’s advance coverage.
If the winds blow hard and steady, Nobilo was asked, could golf be looking at something like the “Massacre at Winged Foot?” In 1974, Hale Irwin won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a 7- over-par total.
“You could get on a bogey train there with a 30 mile-per-hour wind that you'll never get off, and then you still have to finish out the golf course with 17 and 18,” Nobilo said. “I know Johnny [Miller] was saying, with the wind blowing, this could be the hardest course in America. You might say that's a little hyperbole there, but when the wind blows on an American coastal course, when you can't go to the ground [with golf shots], it's very difficult.”
Chamblee believes the PGA’s setup is important.
“I was fearful of the same thing Johnny Miller was, that if the wind blows, we are going to see carnage,” Chamblee said. “But then, I arrest those thoughts with the thought that the PGA of America is running it, and I think they will do a great job. It already sounds like, per Frank's descriptions, that they have given up generous landing areas so that if guys get a little off kilter, they have got some recovery room.”
Nobilo believes the PGA will be wise in its setup.
“This is not their first rodeo,” Nobilo said. “So they are aware of what's happened there in the past events that they have run . . .