Grading the PGA Championship

Well, the PGA Championship was definitely a disappointment.

Tiger Woods didn’t feature at all on the weekend, meaning that there were far fewer opportunities to watch him misbehave after yet another poor drive – unless of course, you were watching the early TNT coverage. (I was not)

Charl Schwartzel, meanwhile, missed the cut. And Steve Pate, “The Volcano”, well he’s not playing the regular tour anymore.

The one incident that I feel I must grade was the lame, dispassionate attempt to muster up some anger that we saw from Jason Dufner on the 18th tee of round 3. The eventual champion, at that point one shot off the pace, blocked his driver right on the tough par 4.  His reaction: the usual golfer’s step-aside to the edge of the tee box, some mild brooding, then a delayed, meek, overhead toss of the club at his bag a few feet away. Duffner is known to be nearly catatonic out there. But come on, Jason. You’d throw the softball more forcefully while playing catch with a four-year-old.

 If you’ve seen National Lampoon’s Vacation (and if you haven’t get on it), you might recall Ellen and Clark Griswold half-heartedly “washing” the dishes with a scraper and a dry towell, but no water or soap. I’d say that on the spectrum of club throwing, that’s about where Dufner’s performance last Saturday fell: Let’s call it an F.

Overall, the dearth of inappropriate behavior at this year’s PGA leaves me room to dredge up some amusing incidents from long ago PGA Championships. Here are two:

– Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, 1986: Many golf fans remember this tournament for Bob Tway’s holed bunker shot on 18, which thwarted yet another Greg Norman attempt at a major. Me, I remember it for Ben Crenshaw, who had to make a hospital visit for stiches after throwing his putter in the air, only to have it gash him in the head when he forgot that what goes up must come down.

– Kemper Lake Golf Club in the Chicago, 1989: Curtis Strange came in second that week. But his greatest achievement came on hole 12 of the final round, when after pushing an iron shot, he looked at the camera and bellowed, “goddamn son-0f-a-bitch!” It appeared Strange was yelling at someone in the gallery, perhaps for putting up an umbrella since it had just begun to rain. He later explained that the subject of his ire was a cameraman who had clicked the shutter midswing.

In either case, when a friend of mine sent Strange a letter a few years later, telling him how much he admired that moment, and asking for an autographed picture signed, “To Mike, You goddamn son-of-a-bitch,” Strange did not comply.



Grading the PGA Championship — 1 Comment

  1. As for the Ben Crenshaw putter-launch situation, I think it’s important to see the recent “anchored” putters occasionally become unanchored…….from contact with the ground (and go airborne). Adam Scott’s putter? That must weigh as much as a Finnish track-and-field javelin, if not more.

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