Rickie Fowler has done something Tiger Woods never did. That is, string together eight consecutive major-championship rounds in the 60s in the same year.
Fowler’s consistency in the 2014 majors is one of the season’s best stories – overshadowed by Rory McIlroy, of course, but still deserving high praise. He was T-5 at the Masters, T-2 in the U.S. Open and Open Championship and T-3 in the PGA. At Hoylake he went 69-69-68-67, followed by trips of 69-66-67-68 at the PGA Championship.
The best Woods ever did? During his historic 2000 season (three straight wins in the majors), he shot seven straight rounds in the 60s – the last round at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, all four at the Open Championship at St. Andrews, then the first two rounds at Valhalla in the PGA. A third-round 70 halted that stretch.
- Two players’ takes on how PGA Tour reacts after drug testing.
- McGovern returns to PGA Championship life, but just for a week.
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FINAL TABULATIONS: For the 13 players who made the cut in all four majors, here were the cumulative scores:
Rickie Fowler 32 under; Rory McIlroy 27 under; Jim Furyk 21 under; Adam Scott 18 under; Henrik Stenson 13 under; Jimmy Walker 13 under; Justin Rose 10 under; Jason Day 3 under; Louis Oosthuizen 1 over; Brandt Snedeker 2 over; Bill Haas 5 over; Francesco Molinari 9 over; Kevin Stadler 20 over.
Scott owns the longest active stretch of consecutive cuts made in the majors, at 14. Day, Stenson, Garcia and Snedeker are next with eight, each of them having last failed to make weekend play at the Kiawah Island 2012 PGA.
Scott’s last missed cut was the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
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ALMOST DADDY TIME: Graeme McDowell is off this week, resting up for more than the FedEx Cup playoffs. He’s also prepping for his first child, a daughter. As for a name, McDowell laughed. “We have several,” he said, “but I’m realizing quickly that my opinion doesn’t carry much weight.”
Which is OK with the man from Northern Ireland.
Conceding that wife Kristin has done so much of the work by carrying the child, “she can name her, that’s for sure.”
McDowell will play in next week’s Barclays, but he’ll return home to be with Kristin for the delivery rather than play in the Deutsche Bank Championship. “But I’ll have a pretty big smile on my face come Colorado (the BMW Championship) and hopefully the Ryder Cup, as well.”
McDowell sits 41st and is all but assured of a spot into the BMW. But getting to the Tour Championship, which he has never done? He’ll need big weeks at Barclays and the BMW.
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HE’LL TAKE HOME GAME: Thorbjorn Olesen, the talented young Dane, will take on the Web.com Tour Finals in an effort to regain a PGA Tour card for 2014-15.
When he left Valhalla Golf Club late Sunday afternoon after finishing tied for 30th, Olesen had to decide quickly whether to go to North Carolina and the Wyndham Championship and make one last bid to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs, or head to his native Denmark for this week’s European Tour stop.
It was a short ride and a swift choice: He would tee it up in the Made in Denmark tournament.
Since he sits 173rd in the FedEx Cup standings, Olesen is not qualified for the playoffs and thus will take on the Web.com Tour Finals later this year.
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CRYSTAL BALL: One man’s par 4 of predictions for what’s on the horizon:
• Steve Stricker as 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain. The PGA of America went outside the box with Tom Watson and would be wise to do so in two years, too. Midwestern guy in Minnesota? Perfect.
• Valhalla as frequent site of PGA Championship. Perhaps not every five years, such as St. Andrews and the Open Championship, but we’ll be back there in less than 10 years.
• Tiger Woods will give an update on his “explosiveness” at his next news conference.
• Jason Day as a formidable rival to Rory McIlroy. You have to love what Rickie Fowler has done, but there’s just something about the way Day goes about his business that makes you believe in him.
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PGA SCORECARDS: So far as the PGA Championship is concerned, here is some of this and a little of that:
• Rory McIlroy has two wins, four top 5s and five top 10s while making the cut in each of his six starts.
• Phil Mickelson has made 19 consecutive cuts, with eight tops 10s.
• Hunter Mahan (T-7) had his first top in nine starts.
• Steve Stricker has been inside the top 20 in each of his last five starts.
• The Molinari brothers – Francesco and Edoardo – have combined to make the cut in all nine of their starts.
• Keegan Bradley missed the cut for the first time in four starts.
• Angel Cabrera has failed to make weekend play in five straight and in 15 starts he’s never finished better than T-19.
• Stewart Cink has missed the cut in four straight.
• Darren Clarke has missed in six of the last seven.
• John Daly’s remarkable story with this championship continued. He owes his fame to it, having won in his first try, 1991. He missed the cut this year and has played 72 holes at the PGA just six times in 21 tries since.
• Brendon de Jonge has made the cut in each of his five starts in the season’s final major, and Marc Leishman is now four for four.
• Charley Hoffman missed the cut for the fifth time in six starts.
• Martin Kaymer has missed the cut in three of four starts since winning in 2010.
• Davis Love III has missed the cut in six of his last eight starts.
• Webb Simpson missed the cut, the third time in four starts in this major.
• Jordan Spieth has missed the cut in both his starts.
• Gary Woodland missed his first cut in four starts.
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VALHALLA SUITS THEM: Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els made the cut in all three PGA Championships at Valhalla. (Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh played in all three, but both missed the cut in 2000.)
Mickelson has finished T-8, T-9 and second, so clearly he has a hankering for the place. He has gone 32 under for his 12 rounds, breaking par 10 times, shooting in the 60s seven times. (Note: Valhalla was a par 72 in 1996 and 2000; it was adjusted to a par 71 this time around.)
What ultimately proved to cost Mickelson a chance at a playoff with Rory McIlroy was the bogey at 16. It’s the first time in 12 PGA Championship rounds at Valhalla that he has bogeyed the hole. Until Sunday he had played it in 10 pars and a birdie.
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SATURDAY’S LOWDOWN: You knew we weren’t at a U.S. Open last Saturday when the scoreboard operators came close to running out of red numbers. It was the lowest field average (69.568) for any round in PGA history. For another indicator as to how aggressive the boys were, consider this: Of the top nine names on the leaderboard by the end of the day, three – Bernd Wiesberger, Rickie Fowler and Mikko Ilonen – were bogey-free.
(Did the research myself. It was the first time an Austrian and a Finn were bogey-free in the same third round of any major championship.)
The combined numbers for those top nine on the leaderboard (Rory McIlroy, Wiesberger, Jason Day, Fowler, Ryan Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Henrik Stenson and Ilonen) were impressive, though hardly what we are used to seeing in the majors. Their scoring average was 67.44, and they made a combined 44 birdies against just 10 bogeys and one double.
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OLD NEWS: PALMER DOESN’T WIN PGA: Not that there was cheering in the press room, but veteran golf writers could not be blamed if they were secretly hoping that they finally could write “Palmer wins the PGA.”
It would have been Ryan, of course, and not Arnold, but no worries. It just would have provided something that wasn’t in the cards for the longtime “King,” the only major that Arnold Palmer never won.
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SLOPPY STUFF: During his brief, two-round stint at the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods made one double bogey in 36 holes. That gives him 11 doubles and two triples in 22 1/2 rounds thus far this season.
Shocking how sloppy he has been, because if you take the last full season when Woods was Woods – meaning, dominant, healthy and winning majors – you get 2007. He won seven PGA Tour tournaments, including the PGA, and in 60 stroke-play rounds he made just 12 bogeys and one triple.