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Five things we learnt from the PGA Champs

JASON Day is Australia's newest major winner, but what else did we learn from the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits?

THERE are some basic facts that came out of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Australia's Jason Day is the newest member of the majors club, there isn't another major for eight months and Jordan Spieth is golf's newest World Number One.

But here are five other things we learnt from the 2015 PGA Championship: 

1. A GOLDEN ERA OF AUSTRALIAN GOLF

We may be entering a Golden Age of Australian golf unmatched by recent eras. Of our players with PGA Tour cards, three have now won majors – Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and Jason Day.

But that’s just the start.

Despite Scott’s poor performance at Whistling Straits and an upcoming adjustment to his putting stroke, he has come close to winning another major twice this year and is still one of the best ball strikers in the world. 

Another 30-something, Marc Leishman, has come close at majors, notably the 2013 US Masters and this year’s Open Championship. There is no doubt he has all the tools to win at least one of the big ones in his career and it could happen sooner than later.

Jason Day has, of course, now lived up to the potential that he has promised for so long. And he is still only 27. 

Nick Faldo turned 30 the day before he won the first of his six majors. Tiger Woods won six majors from the age of 28, which is how old Day will be when next year’s Masters rolls around.

Apart from Day and Scott, there is a long list of talented Australians who have the potential to reach the top of the game. Cameron Smith has already shown his gifts at majors, while amateur Ryan Ruffels has long been touted as our next big star along with Lucas Herbert.

2013 US Amateur runner-up Oliver Goss is plying his trade on the Web.com Tour and also has the tools to go far in the game. 

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2. FIRST ROUND LEADS DON’T MEAN THAT MUCH FOR SOME

American Dustin Johnson has proved this point a number of times this year. At the US Open, The Open and the PGA Championship, the long-hitting South Carolinian led after the first round. However, shooting over par in succeeding rounds edged Johnson out of the top spot. 

Of course, at Chambers Bay he fought back to be 12-foot from victory and at Whistling Straits he made up for an over-par Friday and a snowman on the first hole Sunday by rocketing himself back up to 7th with a stunning final nine holes. 

The only player to lead after the first round in a major this year and go on to win was Jordan Spieth at the US Masters when he triumphed with a wire-to-wire victory. 

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3. ROSE WILL WIN ANOTHER MAJOR

Over the four majors this year, 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose was 34-under – the lowest to-par score for a player who didn’t win a major that season. 

His worst performance this year was at the US Open when he finished T27 on a Chambers Bay set-up that saw some of the best in the game crumble.

At The Masters he was T2, The Open 6th and the PGA Championship he was 4th.

Rose was knocking on the door all year but, unfortunately, came up short. His performance at Whistling Straits was one he should be proud of having only placed behind Day, Spieth and South African Branden Grace, who has also had a great year at the majors.

With a superb record at Augusta without ever winning, it wouldn’t be a brave call to back Rose to slip on the green jacket next April after a stellar PGA Championship performance.

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4. THE FUTURE OF THE GAME IS IN GOOD HANDS 

Two players who finished in the top 5 but haven’t received as much attention as they may deserve are Anirban Lahiri and Brooks Koepka.

American Koepka will rue his front nine on Thursday when he was 4-over at the turn, but on the weekend he went 30 holes without making a bogey before a slip up on the 13th hole on Sunday. What could have been for the big-hitter had he been in a better position at the start of the weekend? 

Based on his final 63 holes at the PGA Championship and already winning on the PGA Tour this season, keep an eye out for Koepka in years to come. 

Lahiri, the rising star from India, was consistent over each day, never shooting par or worse with rounds of 70, 67, 70 and 68.

The T5 at Whistling Straits was Lahiri’s best major performance of the year. At the Masters he was T49, he missed the cut at the US Open and at St Andrews he finished T30. 

At the beginning of the year, Lahiri was on fire on the European Tour claiming two victories in as many weeks. 

Koepka played his way onto the PGA Tour from the European Tour and Lahiri is well placed to follow suit. From opposite sides of the world, the pair will be at the top of major leaderboards for years to come.

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5. THE TIGER CIRCUS IS TIRESOME

After a lengthy break from the game, many were hoping Tiger Woods could return to his best this year. Before each 2015 major, one of the key discussion points was whether Tiger would tee it up or not.

At each one he did so and the talk quickly turned to: how would Tiger play?

At the US Masters, Tiger showed-off some of his regarded flair with brave iron play. He ended up finishing T17 and many thought that Woods was getting back to his best.

Then came the debacle that was the US Open when, as the feature group, he shot 80 and followed up with a 76 on Friday to miss the cut by a long, long way. 

At the PGA Championship, there was less talk and less vision of Woods than the previous three majors – and the tournament was better for it.

Not because Woods is past it or done or lacks any relevance to the game. The tournament was better for it because no one likes to beat on a champion when he is down.

2015 has been Woods’ worst major year in a season where he has played all four tournaments, with three missed cuts and a best of T17. Yet, Woods has received a massive amount of TV and media coverage.

At the PGA Championship, that talk and coverage was noticeably lessened.

For the sake of golf history, no one should hope that Tiger is done. It is doubtful he will ever return to being the player that from 1997 to 2005 had a worst finish at a major of T39. 

But, for now, the spotlight needs to be taken off him until he better resembles the player that ruled golf. 

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