With Tiger Woods’ game in shambles and Phil Mickelson out of contention (despite a great final round), the PGA Championship got exactly what it needed — an awesome tournament with a fresh infusion of golf’s new young stars battling it out. 25-year-old German Martin Kramer eventually took the trophy in a playoff over American Bubba Watson, although a controversial ruling kept Dustin Johnson out of playoff. Here’s a breakdown of the young stars that battled it out on Sunday.
Martin Kaymer — A few weeks back I was on ESPN.com looking at the world golf rankings for another post that I was writing. I was shocked to see that Martin Kaymer was ranked 9th in the world, on the heels of 5 European tour victories. I asked my roommate (and fellow avid golfer) yesterday what he thought Kaymer’s world ranking might be, to which he responded 78th — echoing the popular unknown sentiment. It’s too bad that Kaymer’s victory will take a back seat to Dustin Johnson’s controversial rules call, as Kaymer played as well as anybody. His approach shot into the final playoff hole was golden.
Dustin Johnson — When Johnson’s ball ended up on a sand/dirt patch on the back 9 Sunday, he never even considered that his ball could be in a “bunker.” He proceeded to touch his club to the ground (which you can’t do in a bunker) and hit a great shot. I would have done the same thing, as would most other players in the field. Johnson was later penalized 2-shots for the infraction that dropped him out of the final playoff. The good news is that he missed a short putt to “win” the tournament on the final hole of regulation — if he had made the putt he would have thought he had won the tournament, only to be stripped of his title. Regardless of his disappointment, Johnson played in the final group at 2 majors this year. He shot a final round 82 in the US Open to finish 8th, but rebounded yesterday to play much better — it was his tournament to win. This guy has absolutely awesome power, and clearly is a big tournament player. I’d look for him to play well next season and at the Ryder Cup.
Bubba Watson — Another super long hitter, Bubba ultimately ruined his chances on the final hole of the playoff against Kaymer by taking a stupidly aggressive line over water from the rough to the final green. Watson plunked it to make double bogey and lose. You’ve still got to love this guy — he’s never taken a golf lesson because he doesn’t want golf to “become his job.” He figures if he’s not good enough to beat all the other players without lessons, he’s just not good enough.
Rory McIlroy — Rory McIlroy is 22 years old, and missed the playoff by 1 shot. This kid, in my opinion, is golf’s next big star. His swing is awesome, he’s super aggressive, and he’s good enough to back it up with his game. He’s used to playing tough courses in adverse weather conditions, and should be a factor in majors for a long time.
All four of these names are players that you should know. While the days of Tiger and Phil are by no means gone (don’t listen to that BS), it’s refreshing to see a group of new young talent stepping up in the game.
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