The fifth major was played as thus, with Sawgrass and its multitude of changes yielding no quarter. That only the winner, Si Woo Kim, finished in double digits under par, was a testament to the grueling test of golf that was shown on the weekend. It played every bit like a major, but for enthusiasts like moi, there was more on offer than your typical US Open, hack out of two feet of rough, thoroughfare. The redesigns and nuanced changes played their part in crafting a fantastic four days, and helped select a wonderful winner. It was a joy to watch Kims final round, devoid of bogeys, and any real issues.
It was so bullet proof, you would be forgiven for thinking it was Tiger in all his pomp, as so many of his more experiences peers, like JB Holmes, Brendan Steele, 2010 Open Champion Louis Oousithuizen (yes, I still had to wiki his surname) and a resurgent Ian Poulter either faltered or didn’t have enough in the tank to pip him at the post. Like Speith, his calmness betrayed his youth, and though Kim has two previous professional wins, there really was no stopping him. I actually watched the front nine of the main players, recorded, watched the Warriors and Spurs in the NBA play-offs, and sat back down for the back nine action.
There couldn’t have been two contrasting outcomes. While San Antonio folder in Leonards absence, much like the efforts of Kyle Stanley, Oouisthuizen and especially Holmes, Golden State and Kim played their own game and found their way to the finish line. As much as they would beg to differ, the PGA would have preferred other names adorning the hierarchy of the leaderboard. Names like Rory, with fresh new equipment and not so fresh physical frailties it seems, Jason and Dustin that really only served to get through to the weekend, and worst of all, Jordan Speith, looking sadly out of sorts. He did hint that the type of grass on the greens didn’t lend itself to his style of putting, so hopefully, there will be more conducive surfaces in the near future. Fresh after his latest battle to retain his PGA tour status, Ian Poulter engaged in another skirmish with everyone’s favourite pundit, Brandel Chamblee. It all stemmed from him laying up on sixteen, the last par five and the last real chance you have of gaining ground at Sawgrass, as it played the easiest hole all weekend. Poulter was criticized for being more concerned about the money than the win, ironic when you consider the winner earns the most money anyway.
There was a rebuke on Twitter, leading to a screen grab of Poulter being blocked by Chamblee. Brandel was on Golf Weekly last week, and came across so affable and pleasant, unlike his on-screen persona. So it is sad to see this level of schoolyard tactics from two grown men that really should know better. Poulter has had enough of his own detractors on Twitter to know that it should merely be ignored, but it does lend to juicy column inches for golf geeks and stirrers of the pot like myself. Like any good comments section worth its salt, this is where reasoning goes to die. No winners come out of this really, as it really isn’t the right forum for discourse, when a multitude of opinionated hacks that really should know better (yes, that includes me too) can chime in willy-nilly. The thing I find funny is, I can appreciate if my ilk and less articulate and informed cretins are blocked by someone of their stature, but when Brandel blocks Poulter, or other PGA Pros block Brandel, surely they are all big enough men that they can air their grievances towards each other?
Hopefully it doesn’t detract from a fantastic tournament and a fantastic winner, as that would be the biggest crime of all of this. That a guy can be pretty much last in all discernable stats and win shows how anomalous the game can be, and how hard it actually is to win. The organisers did a job and a half of setting up the course to be a tough test for everyone, so please please please, can they and not the USGA set up the US Open in the next few weeks????