|The par 3s went a long way toward aggravating Phil Mickelson. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)|
Parting shots from PGA Championship
Emptying out the PGA Championship notebook, hoping to wrap up the long and the short of it . . .
■First, the long. Keegan Bradley’s playoff victory over Jason Dufner was impressive on a number of levels, but it was also historic. Never before had a long putter been used by a major champion on the PGA Tour. Bradley’s Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth model measures 46 3/4 inches and has been in his bag for 2 1/2 years, but he doesn’t go with a split-hand, broom-like grip that some, such as Adam Scott, favor with the long putters. He anchors the top of the putter to his belly and uses a traditional grip, right hand lower than the left.
It worked wonders at the PGA, and made Bradley a bit of a prophet.
“I remember people telling me when I first switched, they would go, ‘But nobody has ever won a major with it,’ ’’ Bradley said. “And I remember looking at them and going, ‘I’m going to be the first one to win a major,’ just joking, pretty much. It’s a surreal thing that it’s true.’’
Even before his victory, other players were taking note. Jim Furyk, who famously strolled last year into Joe & Leigh’s Discount Golf Pro Shop in South Easton and bought a putter that he used to win the Tour Championship and
Bradley also uses a Srixon golf ball, giving the manufacturer its first major championship.
■ Bradley becomes the fifth winner whose father was a PGA of America club professional. The others: Jack Burke Jr. (1956), Dave Marr (1965), Davis Love (1997), and Rich Beem (2002).
■ Safe to say that Phil Mickelson and Rees Jones don’t exchange Christmas cards. Mickelson, who has taken issue with some of Jones’s redesign work ever since the “Open Doctor’’ tweaked Torrey Pines for the 2008 US Open, was vocal last week as well, specifically about Atlanta Athletic Club’s lengthened par-3 holes.
“If you look at the four par 3s here, it’s a perfect example of how modern architecture is killing the game,’’ said Mickelson, “because these holes are unplayable for the member. You have water in front, and a bunker behind.
“It’s great for the championship, but . . . the average guy just can’t play it.’’
Responding to the criticism, Jones told the Wall Street Journal: “Phil’s just trying to round up some course-design work for himself.’’
■ Among those who failed to make a birdie? British Open champion Darren Clarke and 63-year-old Larry Nelson. After missing the cut, Clarke was looking forward to putting down the clubs for at least 10 days and taking a well-deserved holiday. Nelson, the 1981 PGA champion when Atlanta Athletic Club hosted, had 78-75 but at least took some hardware home to nearby Marietta. Nelson received the PGA of America’s Distinguished Service Award, the organization’s highest honor.
■ Following Ian Poulter and Bubba Watson Saturday morning, we came upon a sizable crowd near the ropes along the left side of the third hole, halfway down the fairway. Was Watson or Poulter playing a shot from there? No. Free ice cream on a hot day? Nope. A gallery marshal was holding court, regaling his visitors by showing them the location where Rory McIlroy played a shot in the first round and his club clipped a tree root, injuring the US Open winner. The marshal was even showing spectators the spot on the wood where McIlroy’s club made impact.
■ McIlroy made plenty of news on the course last week, looking like he was about to withdraw after getting injured, playing through pain, and ultimately fading on the weekend to tie for 64th. He’s not exactly keeping a low profile off the course, either. He said he was heading to Cincinnati for a few days - “I hear it’s nice there this time of year’’ - and not going out of his way to dispel the recent chatter that has linked him to Caroline Wozniacki, the top-ranked women’s tennis player in the world. She is competing in a WTA event in Cincinnati this week, in preparation for the US Open.
■ Of those who made the cut in all four majors this year - 11 players in all - Charl Schwartzel had the best results. If we award 1 point for a win and 10 for a 10th-place finish, etc. (the lower overall total the better, obviously), Schwartzel finished with 38 points (1-9-16-12), better than Steve Stricker’s 54 (11-19-12-12). Stricker has five consecutive top-20 finishes in majors, by the way, but is still looking for that first victory.
■Sergio Garcia, who wasn’t even eligible for the US Open or British Open at the start of the year before playing his way into both, had his third straight solid major. He tied for 12th at the PGA, after tying for seventh (US) and ninth (British) earlier in the summer.
■ The tournament is run by the PGA of America, and included among the membership traveling to Atlanta and filling any number of roles were Jim O’Mara of Charles River Country Club and Charlie Lanzetta of Rockland Country Club.
■ Finally, the short of it. John Daly still attracts a good-sized crowd, despite the fact that his tie for ninth at last month’s Canadian Open is his only top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since 2005. Daly missed the cut at the PGA with rounds of 77-76. Following Big John around was his 8-year-old son, Little John, who was hard to miss. Not only does he look an awful lot like his famous father, complete with blonde hair, but he dressed the part, too, down to the red-and-white-checkered Loudmouth pants that have been part of Daly’s ensemble the past few years.
Daly, by the way, wasn’t interested in blending in when 17 former PGA champions gathered for a pretournament dinner. Everyone else wore either a suit or a sports jacket, dress shirt, and tie. Not Daly. He went with pink Chuck Taylor sneakers, jeans, pink T-shirt, and a red-and-white blazer that would make Don Cherry proud. It’s a photo worth searching for on the Internet.
Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.