There was nothing to separate Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson through 71 holes with the former Ryder Cup partners both 15-under par as they stepped on to the 18th green at the Olympic Golf Course on Sunday afternoon.
The popularity of major champions is always easy to determine.
Jimmy Walker’s passion is astrophotography. It is unclear at which point he reckoned that, if taking pictures of the stars, he might as well shoot for them.
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.
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.
Eighteen months ago in the clubhouse at Bay Hill, venue for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the adopted winter home of this golfing icon, Rory McIlroy was approached. “Rory; if you need anything this week, you just let me know.”
Albeit the success of 2015 may influence his thinking, Jordan Spieth will place team success over that of an individual variety during the next fortnight. When asked which he would cherish more, a FedEx or Ryder Cup, Spieth’s desire to be part of a winning USA contingent at Hazeltine was abundantly clear for merely the latest time.
The murmurings in relation to Paul Casey’s refusal to make himself eligible for the Ryder Cup could take the form of an epic storyline within days.
Henrik Stenson’s celebration to mark his Open Championship win may be deemed lavish in certain contexts.
Darren Clarke insisted Europe’s Ryder Cup team are not without Sunday hope, despite trailing the USA by three points heading into the singles at Hazeltine.
Finding appropriate context or comparison for the behaviour of spectators at a Ryder Cup is not particularly easy.
With four matches of this Ryder Cup complete Europe’s obituary was half-written. The USA, inspired by the legend of Arnold Palmer, claimed the first session of the event with a whitewash not seen since The King was captain in 1975.