2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla: Recap

APTOPIX PGA Championship Golf

Photo courtesy of o.canada.com

Well the major season is over, and the majority of the golf season comes to a close with it. FedEx Cup playoffs begin immediately, so the excitement will press on, but there just seems to be a melancholy exhale of air when the PGA Championship is over. You can remember back to that early California swing, and Florida swing, all setting up for the trip down Magnolia Lane. It seems like anything is possible for the PGA season – no major winners have been determined yet, a lot of marquee golfers have only played one or two, or zero tournaments yet. Then the Masters gets here, and it really is the stand alone major of the spring and early summer. You get the Players and the Memorial tournaments while you wait for the U.S. Open, but after the U.S. Open, it is a sprint to the finish with the final three majors all coming within two months of each other.

This year, the PGA Championship was squeezed out as long as possible save for a Monday finish. By the time Rory McIlroy tapped in his par/winning putt on 18, the sun had fully set. The last lingering light faded quickly as Rory signed his scorecard and returned to the green to hoist the Wanamaker trophy (having to first catch it and save the lid from hitting the ground, thanks to an awkward fumble by PGA of America President, Ted Bishop). Sunday at Valhalla brought with it the most exciting major finish of this year by a large margin, and possibly the best finish since the 2013 Masters (The Open last year was great too, but it didn’t come down to the final pairings as much).

Photo courtesy of sbnation.com

Photo courtesy of sbnation.com

Rory McIlroy did not run away with the tournament like most people expected, but rather faltered and was one over par through the front nine where most other players did their damage. Both Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson jumped ahead of McIlroy during the round, and Rickie had as much as a 3 shot lead over Rory, matched by Phil on the par 3 11th, until Rory came roaring (I’m sure that phrase has never been used before) back with an eagle, and easily the shot of the tournament, on the par 5 10th.  After closing to one behind, McIlroy retook a share of the lead with a birdie on 13, and after bogeys from Phil and Rickie, McIlroy added a birdie on 17 to take a two-shot lead into 18.

This would have given Mickelson and Fowler one final chance for an eagle to put some pressure on Rory, but with darkness setting in, the 18th hole was played in the most unusual fashion in recent major history. After the Drives of Phil and Rickie, McIlroy and Wiesberger were called to hit up so they could finish in time, and more bizarrely, they were called to hit their approach shots up before Phil and Rickie got the chance to finish and post a score. Things nearly became a lot more dire for Rory when Phil came literally within inches from chipping in, but after his tap in birdie, it was an easy sand shot and two putt for Rory McIlroy to claim his third straight PGA win, and second straight major win. I’ll let ESPN say this for me, but we all know the rarefied air that Rory McIlroy joins with such an accomplishment, and the golf phenom in particular he stands to be compared to in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and moving toward the 2015 season.

Photo courtesy of www.valhalla.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.philly.com

As for our picks, we covered the heavy favorites, most of whom panned out. Sergio Garcia took a big step back, but not big enough for Jon’s prediction of him missing the cut to come true. Jon made the wise decision to go with Rory McIlroy, which Dave and I made the unwise decision not to do, and the result was Jon taking the top prize on foursomes by a substantial margin. But our foursomes were neck in neck, both of us totaling over a million, and me narrowly edging out Dave with the help of Phil’s solo-second and Adam’s T15. Dave had a strong 3 including Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, who tied each other for 3rd place, and Jim Furyk in a T7.

Fantasy Golf Source will be taking a hiatus from the previews and predictions until the start of the 2014-15 season. We’ve decided to sit back and watch the playoffs unfold, and leave the picking to you. Check back for posts as we try to help spread the glory that is fantasy golf in the off season, and help you get prepared to start your very own league!

Most Likely to Win

Jon: Rory McIlroy (-16, Winner)

Tom: Jim Furyk (-12, T7)

Dave: Rickie Fowler (-14, T3)

Dark Horse for the Week

Jon: Miguel Angel Jimenez (72-77, Cut)

Tom: Billy Horschel (E, T59)

Dave: Charl Schwartzel (-9, T15)

Unexpected Player to Miss the Cut

Jon: Sergio Garcia (-3, T36)

Tom: Matt Kuchar (Withdrew – doesn’t really count…)

Dave: Phil Mickelson (-15, Solo-2)

Favorite to Win

Jon: Rory McIlroy (-16, Winner)

Tom: Adam Scott (-9, T15)

Dave: Sergio Garcia (-3, T36)

Foursomes

Jon: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley (Total Earnings: $2,398,700)

Tom: Jim Furyk, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell (Total Earnings: $1,600,181)

Dave: Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia (Total Earnings: $1,570,020)

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