August 9, 2008

Final Round Winners And Losers

Matt Rudy analyzes the final round and tells you who came out a winner and who ended up a loser

WINNER

Padraig Harrington

I don't know what else there is to do besides shoot two 66s on the same day to win your second consecutive major. Harrington didn't have anything else to prove, but he showed a little bit extra Sunday, taking 11 putts on the last nine holes to take the PGA Championship away from Sergio Garcia. Harrington's 7-iron approach from the rough on 18 set up his winning par putt, and that was after he fatted an 8-iron from the fairway bunker for his second shot. But his biggest shot of his week was the 5-iron he hit to the 235-yard 17th. He put it within 11 feet to set up the birdie that would pull him clear of Garcia. The atmosphere surrounding Harrington and Garcia over the last three holes was finally (finally!) major-championship caliber. On 18, when Harrington's third shot settled 16 feet from the hole, the sun broke out and most of the fans still at Oakland Hills crowded around the green. Finishing off the best cross-handed putting day in major-championship history -- he made 47 feet of putts on the last three holes alone -- Harrington rolled in the winning 16-footer. He has now won three of the last six major championships, and you can make a good argument that Harrington is the No. 2 player in the world.

LOSERS

Sergio Garcia

Harrington made a point of saying after his round that the final nine on Sunday is about taking responsibility for your game on your own shoulders and making the shot -- and accepting responsibility for the outcome. Garcia still believes the fates are conspiring against him, and isn't afraid to say so. As petulant as Garcia can sometimes be in defeat, you have to feel bad for how the day shook out. He played extremely well, shooting rounds of 69 and 68, and produced the best putting day of his major-championship career. But once again, somebody else had just a little bit more. Garcia came out of his approach shot on 16, letting it drift right and spin back into the water. He made a good up and down to save bogey, holing a four-foot putt, but Harrington made an even better putt from 20 feet to save par. On 17, Garcia hit a 5-iron to five feet, but missed the birdie putt ("I can't understand why it didn't break . . . "). Harrington made his birdie putt from 11 feet. Still, if we really are seeing a new Sergio -- a guy who is as in control of his emotions and putting stroke at a major as he is during the Ryder Cup -- he'll be a formidable threat even when Tiger Woods is back in major fields. But at some point, the harsh losses break something inside a player. It happened to Tom Weiskopf. It happened to Ernie Els. Sergio has given some away with his putter and had some taken from him. You sometimes forget he isn't even 30. Let's just say his golf psyche is a lot older than his body.

J.B. Holmes

Nobody expected the big swinger to do well on a tight, difficult course setup, but the expectations grow when you're playing in the last group in the third round. Holmes hit a horrific hook off the first tee, compounded it with a failed chop out, took an unplayable lie and walked off with a triple-bogey 7. We didn't hear from him the rest of the day, and he finished with an 81 to tie for 29th. I'm sure going down in flames on a major championship Sunday was a learning experience, and there may be some Masters excitement in Holmes' future.

The U.S. Ryder Cup Team

Ben Curtis' tie for second shot him up from 20th to 7th on the Ryder Cup points list (the top eight make the team automatically), but no other American player from fifth through 20th made any kind of statement. Boo Weekley tied for 20th, Holmes and Jim Furyk tied for 29th and D.J. Trahan and Sean O'Hair tied for 31st. Anthony Kim disappeared without a splash on Sunday, shooting 75-77, as did Justin Leonard (72-80). Add in the terrific performances from Euro team members Harrington, Garcia, Henrik Stenson (tied for fourth) and Justin Rose (tied for ninth) and it isn't a stretch to say the Europeans are the favorites in Kentucky next month.