Who will win the PGA Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2010, 9:48 pm

Who will win the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits? Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer up their opinions.

By REX HOGGARD

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Winds gusting to 25 mph and a swing that, at least on Saturday, seemed as sound as the Midwestern sensibilities that define this area will be the ultimate arbiter on Sunday at Whistling Straits, but then golf’s capricious ways have a history of upending the storybook.

With a three-stroke lead and a game trending in all the right directions, Nick Watney seems the easy pick to hoist glory at her last stand, but it’s the man Watney will venture out onto the faux links land with that gets our nod for early favorite.

If careers are defined by major moments both large and small, Dustin Johnson may well point to his fateful final round earlier this year at Pebble Beach as the turning point in his promising career.

Three days after his Pebble Beach meltdown Johnson and caddie Bobby Brown got around to watching Sunday’s replay, all 82 pops.

“I think the light went off (for Johnson) that I’m on my way to being one of the best,” Brown said.

Since Pebble Beach, Johnson has finished T-14 (Open Championship), T-19 (Scandinavian Masters) and 15th (WGC-Bridgestone Championship) and he’s gotten better with each round at Whistling Straits (71-68-67).

Watney may have the early edge, but Johnson is the easy favorite.

By RANDALL MELL

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Rory McIlroy is 21 and going on 30.

That’s the maturity level we’re seeing on and off the golf course from the man from Northern Ireland.

It’s what wins him the PGA Championship and his first major today.

McIlroy is already showing there’s no fear in him in the biggest events and against the best fields. Coming to Whistling Straits this week, he had played in seven major championships as a pro. He had top-10 finishes in three of them, including T-3s at last year’s PGA Championship and this year’s British Open.

Two strong signs that he’s ready to break through under major championship pressure have come this season. McIlroy’s 62 in the final-round of the Quail Hollow Championship was eye opening. You could argue it’s more the fifth major than The Players Championship. The strength of that field, the quality of that golf course, it radiated major vibes.

Last month, McIlroy showed his special gifts with that 63 in the first round of the British Open, but he showed us something just as important after faltering with an 80 in terrible weather in the second round. He bounced back with a 69 and 68 to tie for third.

It’s the ability to withstand disappointment and persevere that helps him win today.
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Fleetwood fires 63, waits to see if score is enough

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 8:52 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Tommy Fleetwood became the sixth player to shoot 63 at the U.S. Open, and just the second to do it in the final round. Now he waits.

Fleetwood teed off almost 2 ½ hours before – and six strokes behind – the leaders at Shinnecock Hills on Sunday, but stormed into the hunt thanks to four consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole. The Englishman’s round was even more impressive considering he didn’t birdie either of the layout’s par 5s.


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Fleetwood finished at 2 over par – after missing a 9-foot putt for birdie and 62 at the 18th – which was tied for second place and one stroke off the lead held by Brooks Koepka when he completed his round.

After speaking with the media, Fleetwood went to the locker room to await a possible playoff, which was changed this year from an 18-hole overtime to just two holes of aggregate play.

“We'll go and relax a little bit and just see,” said Fleetwood, who rolled in 159 feet of birdies putts. “Only time will tell what's going to happen today at the course. If it was like yesterday, I'd feel a little more comfortable than now.”

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Fowler follows 84 with 65, praises Shinnecock setup

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 5:44 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – As promised, the USGA dialed back Shinnecock Hills for Sunday’s final round, watering the greens overnight and deferring to more user-friendly hole locations.

The evidence of this was on the leaderboard, with four early finishers having shot under-par rounds, including Rickie Fowler, who closed with a round-of-the-week 65. There were just three under-par cards on Saturday.

“That's the golf course I enjoy playing. Obviously, pin placements were a lot safer,” said Fowler, who had just one bogey on Sunday and opened his day with a 4-under 31 on his opening nine. “The pins today will definitely allow for the greens to firm up and get fast, and we'll see how much they dry out. It was definitely more receptive this morning than yesterday, that's for sure.”


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It was a 19-stroke turnaround for Fowler, who ballooned to a third-round 84 on Day 3 during what most contend were the week’s toughest conditions. Fowler had put himself into contention going into the weekend thanks to a second-round 69, but struggled on Saturday afternoon like much of the field.

Fowler said the setup was vastly different to what players faced on Saturday and that even if the winds increase for the afternoon tee times the course will remain playable, unlike Round 3 when many players said the USGA “lost” the golf course.

“They did a good job of staying safe,” Fowler said, “because if it does dry out, it will still be very playable.”

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Phil celebrates par on 13, ducks media after round

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 5:35 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson didn’t have another meltdown at the U.S. Open.

Back on the 13th green Sunday – less than 24 hours after taking a two-shot penalty for hitting a moving ball and recording a sextuple-bogey 10 – Mickelson poured in a 10-footer and raised his arms in mock triumph, as if he’d finally won that elusive major title.

Not quite.

He’d simply made par.

“It looked like he won the Masters,” said playing partner Rickie Fowler. “He didn’t jump, but he had a little celebration there.”


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The par save and the final-round 69 were one of the lone bright spots during what was an adventurous week for Lefty, even by his unpredictable standards. Mickelson’s shocking swat was still the talk of this Open, especially after USGA executive director Mike Davis revealed Saturday night that Mickelson had called him to ask for more clarification on the rule he said that he knew he’d broken.

Despite some calls for him to withdraw from the tournament, Mickelson displayed his usual cheerful demeanor inside the ropes with Fowler.

“He joked about it right as we went down the first hole,” Fowler said.

Fowler said that he didn’t know “if I would have had the wits like Phil to run after it” on 13, but added that it never should have come to that in the first place.

“He could have saved himself a shot by just letting it go and taking unplayable, but then that would still look pretty funny too,” he said. “The course shouldn’t play that way.”

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

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USGA slows greens, alters hole locations for Sunday

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 3:29 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – After admitting that it went too far with the setup Saturday at the U.S. Open, USGA officials made some modifications for the final round.

In a statement released Sunday morning, the USGA said that it watered Shinnecock Hills’ greens an “appropriate level” and slowed down the surfaces nearly a foot on the Stimpmeter.


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That was in anticipation of a sunny, dry forecast that calls for temperatures to reach 80 degrees and wind gusts up to 20 mph.

They said the setup for the final day is similar to what was used in Round 1, when officials braced for 30-mph winds.

Some of the hole locations were also adjusted based on the forecast – changes, the USGA said, that were meant to “maintain a challenge yet fair U.S. Open test.”