A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Giveaway: A Look Back At The 2005 PGA Championship
NEW JERSEY — If there is one word that describes the 87th PGA Championship, that word would be “giveaway.” From the opening tee shot to the final birdie putt by winner Phil Mickelson, it seemed that players were playing giveaway like let’s see who worked the hardest to give away this tournament.
Tiger and Vijay certainly did their share as they continuously gave away shots at crucial times that cost each the tournament. For Tiger, he hit some awful shots off the tee that placed him in tough positions to score.
Think back to the start of the final round on Sunday when he bogeyed two of the first three holes. It was his ability to scramble that saved him on several occasions, but it was not enough.
From the opening round of 75, when scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity went by the wayside to the way he played the par 5 17th and 18th holes, (for the tournament he finished playing the par 5’s at 1 under par), what was a strength became a weakness. He could not make up any ground on the leaders as many expected.
He is the best at scoring on the par 5’s, but was unable to capitalize. Had he putted like he did at the British Open, the ending would be very different. That said, you must give him credit for getting back into the tournament.
He knew he needed to post a number and when asked he said “I felt if I shot 66 today, that would be a really good number to post early because I’m two hours ahead of the leaders…and looking at that, you say, well, the golf course is not playing easy. They have nothing to lose. They can be aggressive and try to do something, and no one is doing anything”.
“Guys were making some mistakes back there. I thought if I could somehow go 4 3, post 3, I was looking pretty good.” He also added “I wish I could have shot a couple more shots lower.” All in all fairly remarkable that he finished where he did after almost missing the cut and needing to birdie the 18th on Friday to survive and play the weekend.
As for Vijay, the defending champion, it was another case of not being able to putt. Tee to green, he was fantastic though to hear him say it, he was frustrated by his inability to land the ball in the desired spots on the green. There were however, blips off the tee that ultimately cost him.
Heading into the final round, Vijay was three off the pace and in the minds of many, had a great opportunity to once again receive the Wanamaker trophy, emblematic of the winner. Many expected that he would live up to the Hindu interpretation of his name which is victory.
When he finished with a final round of 74, his chances were slim and none. Overall, he finished even for the tournament and settled for 10th place. Of significant consequence was the 3rd hole which proved to be particularly unkind as he doubled bogeyed and wound up with a six on the hole.
Adding salt to the wound, he followed up the 3rd hole fiasco with a bogey on the 4th hole. He managed to stabilize the ship when he pared the next three holes. Finally, he birdied the 8th hole. There was hope at this point as he continued to par hole after hole while the leaders like Phil and Davis Love III started to come back to the pack.
As he made the final turn home disaster struck when he bogeyed the 16th hole, but he had the par 5’s 17th and 18th holes still to play. These scoring holes could still bring life to his chances. If you birdie these, you finish at 2 under and who knows, maybe a playoff. That certainly is what Tiger was thinking.
This scenario quickly evaporated when he pared the 17th, and for good measure bogeyed the 18th hole. No chance at a playoff, no chance to defend. In fact to some fans, Vijay’s putting is so bad that some volunteered to the putt for him, while others on the crowd felt they could beat him in a putting contest. I’m not sure if some of the latter comments were fueled by frustration in Vijay’s play or fueled by adult beverages.
As we head into the twilight of the 2005 golf season, we see Tiger finish with two of four majors and miss by a total of four strokes from getting into a playoff in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. We also see Vijay shut out and without any major wins for 2005.
While there still are tournaments to be played, Tiger and Vijay now enter the silly season as they await and prepare for April 2006 when the next major is to be played. You have to wonder, what might have been if it wasn’t for all of those giveaways.