The thunderstorms and steady downpour that reduced the finely manicured Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club into marshy wetlands over the weekend finally relented yesterday afternoon, sparing tournament officials the headache of the first Monday finish at a PGA Championship since the season’s final major was last played here in 2005 – and further criticism over how it was handled.
It is just as well Matt Fitzpatrick has retained his sense of humour. Otherwise questions surrounding his participation in the Ryder Cup – which have been going on for just short of 11 months – could have reduced the 21-year-old to a rambling wreck.
Let’s call it the curse of Baltusrol. Or perhaps the Baltusrol blues. The US PGA Championship could be destined for a Monday finish upon its return to the New Jersey venue at which Phil Mickelson triumphed in 2005. Eleven years ago, the Wanamaker Trophy was handed over on Monday because of weather delays.
Golf has Olympic refuseniks, those who are sanguine about the sport’s imminent Games return, and Justin Rose.
There were enough reasons to doubt whether Jason Day could win back-to-back US PGA Championships – namely a pre-tournament rush to hospital with his wife, a mild bout of illness for Day himself, the failure to play a single practice hole at Baltusrol before Wednesday and, in round two, the playing of his first seven holes in two over par. Day was drifting.
A dispirited but candid Rory McIlroy admitted to a “pathetic” putting performance after missing the cut at the US PGA Championship to ensure 2016 will conclude without a major win for the Northern Irishman.
From golf’s turmoil comes opportunity.
Rory McIlroy said his immediate ambition is to survive the US PGA Championship cut after he shot an opening round of 74 in the final major of this year. McIlroy, one of the pre-event favourites, endured a series of problems on the greens with 35 putts contributing heavily to his four over par total.
Sam Torrance has been named as Europe’s fifth and final vice-captain for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in September. Torrance, who captained the Europeans to victory in 2002, joins Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn as assistants to Darren Clarke.
Should he successfully defend the US PGA Championship, Jason Day will not so much have raised questions about the concept of ideal preparation as completely trashed it.
A round up of the latest sports stories across all the mainstream sports.
Andrew Johnston made bogey at the Postage Stamp after finding one of the bunkers on the right of the green and made his way to the 9th, low-fiving the crowd on either side of the walkway as he climbed the approach to the tee and keeping his spirits up, but the Englishman knew his moment had slipped away.
Darren Clarke, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, has shrugged off any notion of US crowds negatively impacting on the performance of Sergio García at Hazeltine in September 2016.
If you pay attention to subliminal messages, things don’t look good for Bubba Watson in a Ryder Cup context.
Rory McIlroy delivered the most powerful Ryder Cup message to the United States yet with a dramatic success at the Tour Championship which also ensured the Northern Irishman claimed the $10m FedEx Cup prize. At the start of Ryder Cup week Europe are the side with momentum. With the purses added together, McIlroy departed Georgia $11.5m richer than when he arrived.
For all that the Ryder Cup involves two sides, it is difficult to deviate from the notion that the narrative of this, the 41st playing of the event, focuses mainly on one.
The first blow of the phoney war which always precedes a Ryder Cup has been landed by Lee Westwood, who has pointed towards the potentially “adverse” influence of Tiger Woods as a vice-captain of the USA.
In what will be portrayed either as a motivational masterstroke or a needless act of compassion, Bubba Watson has been named as a fifth and final vice-captain to the USA Ryder Cup team.
Rory McIlroy has achieved his aim of finding himself at the heart of a tournament chase, albeit more prematurely than he would have preferred, in his last event before the Masters.
Tiger Woods kept a low profile in his role as a vice-captain as the USA took a comprehensive win in the Ryder Cup after a hard-fought match and some quite brilliant golf but he will be unable to escape the spotlight when he returns to the course as a player on Thursday.
Even when broken, don’t fix it.
The topic which dominated post-Ryder Cup media duties for the European team had nothing to do with the concession of the trophy for the first time since 2008. Rather, the level of hostility those visitors to Hazeltine encountered from a frenzied home crowd created a narrative which will flow into 2018 and Paris. The reserved French may tone matters down.