Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys

August 09, 2014

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Rory McIlroyThis was the tightest margin of Rory McIlroy's four major wins, but in many ways, it was also the most impressive. Never afforded the cushion he enjoyed at Congressional, Kiawah, or Hoylake, McIlroy was briefly an afterthought when he fell behind by three strokes after a bogey at the sixth. And yet that's when he kicked into the gear only he seems to possess. A birdie on the par-5 7th. An otherworldly 3-wood approach that led to an eagle on the 10th. And then, after finding the bunker off the tee on the 17th, a door-shutting birdie that all but clinched a fourth career major. McIlroy's win gives him three straight, and makes him the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win two consecutive majors. More to the point, it breathes life into the idea that a pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors isn't such a far-fetched idea. Which is not to say he's thinking that way. "I may not have another summer like this," he said. "I've got to enjoy it." --Sam Weinman

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Birdie: The PGAThe season's final major gets cuffed around in comparisons to its three counterparts, but this year it blew the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship away. Much of that was a function of a loaded leader board and a course setup that rewarded aggressive play. If that meant players going low, so what? You often hear the PGA lacks a true identity. "The most entertaining major" sounds OK to us. --SW

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Bogey: The PGAIn the end, it wasn't that the PGA of America risked a Monday finish by declining to move up the tee times with dicey weather in the forecast. It was instead that the championship concluded in virtual darkness, with Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy all playing tournament-deciding shots they could barely see. The 18th hole was a fiasco, with McIlroy hitting into the group ahead in the interest of expedience, and then needing to navigate a difficult two-putt from 33 feet without the benefit of sight. That McIlroy held on to win -- and on Sunday -- was the just outcome, but it all could have gone much smoother with just a little foresight. --SW

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Birdie: Phil MickelsonMickelson may not have won at Valhalla, but he put on a heck of a show, making four birdies on his first nine holes and another on the 11th. His bogey on the 16th -- after he nearly dunked a pitch shot -- halted his momentum, but Phil nevertheless remained in the mix until the very end; his near chip-in for eagle on the last hole forced a good two-putt from Rory. Lefty's solo second -- his first top-10 finish of the season -- is a nice result after a difficult season, and his good play will be warmly welcomed by Tom Watson for the Ryder Cup next month. --Luke Kerr-Dineen

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Birdie: Rickie FowlerOn the bright side, Fowler ended 2014 with the best cumulative score in the majors and joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only player to finish in the top five at all four majors in a single season. On the dark side, each of those players won at least one major when they pulled off the feat while Fowler is still left major-less and with just one PGA Tour title on his resume. "This is the first one that hurts," said Fowler, who had sole possession of the lead at one point on the back nine. Maybe so, but at 25, it looks like they'll be plenty more chances.--Alex Myers

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Bogey: Jason DayThe 26-year-old Australian entered the weekend one off the lead and in great shape to pick up his first major. A solid Saturday that included one of the wildest pars you'll ever see kept him in the hunt, but he was never a factor on Sunday. After missing a couple of short birdie opportunities early, Day tumbled to a T-15 with a one-over 72 on an easy day of scoring. After moving to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking by winning the WGC-Match Play early in the season, he has to be disappointed that he still hasn't picked up major No. 1. --AM

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Birdie: Henrik StensonA front-nine 30. A final-round 66. It still wasn't enough for Stenson to claim his first major championship. But despite a close miss on No. 14 and failing to birdie the closing par 5 at Valhalla, the 38-year-old Swede has to feel good about how he played. With his T-3, Stenson now has four top-four finishes in his last six majors. It seems like a breakthrough is just a matter of time. --AM

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Birdie: Butch HarmonHere's hoping Butch charged his phone, because he's likely to get some more calls in the days and weeks to come. Long recognized as the premier teacher in the game -- he's been voted America's Best Teacher seven times in Golf Digest's biennial ranking -- Harmon deserves plenty of praise for his staggering work in turning Rickie Fowler into a regular major contender. But it's not just Rickie. Between Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker (who shot 65 on Sunday), Harmon had three students in the top 10 that shot a combined 40 under par this week. Whatever those guys are paying him, it seems to be money well spent. --SW

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Bogey: Bernd WiesbergerTrue, you can't be too hard on a guy who had never come close to this position before. Yet given the chance to be this year's Bob May, the unknown Austrian Wiesberger wasn't quite able to hang with the big boys late. On a day when conditions were ripe for scoring, Wiesberger parred the first five holes playing in the final group. But then came bogeys on the sixth and 10th to fall out of contention, and he never recovered. The T-15 finish after a final-round 74 was still by far his best in a major, but given his position at the start of the day, it could have been even more memorable. --SW

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Birdie: Jimmy WalkerA final-round 65 was too little, too late for the FedEx Cup leader entering the week, but it was the latest reminder of how far Walker has come in such a short time. The first three wins of his PGA Tour career have highlighted his breakout season, but his play in golf's biggest events has been nearly as impressive. Walker was the only player to finish in the top 10 in the Masters, U.S. Open and the Players, and he finished a respectable T-26 at the British Open before his T-7 at Valhalla. He'll be a Ryder Cup rookie next month, but he also might be considered the U.S.'s best player. --AM

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Birdie: Valhalla's drainage systemSure, there was a lot casual water on Sunday, but what did you expect? Rain dumped on Valhalla intermittently throughout the week, and just when everybody thought it might be over, another inch poured down Sunday afternoon. That players were able to get back on the course after the flooding was a minor miracle in itself, and the wet conditions actually had the unintended side effect of turning the whole contest into a thrilling dart-throwing birdie-fest. --LKD

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Birdie: Ernie ElsTiger Woods once said that of all the competitors he's locked swords with over the years, it's only Phil, Vijay, and Els who have been there throughout. Ernie, 44, proved that once again on Sunday at the PGA Championship, when he missed two short birdie putts on the front nine and still made the turn in 30. He cooled off a bit on the back nine but still shot 65, tying the lowest round of the tournament en route to a T-7 finish. --LKD

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