POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 11, 2013
The people have spoken. They want to see the flag on the 181-yard 15th hole at Oak Hill next to the water.
The PGA Championship tried to get fans involved this year by allowing them to choose the hole location on the 15th hole for the final round. They were given four choices, with Jack Nicklaus providing input on the differences in strategy of the four choices.
The PGA of America said more than 92,000 votes were cast on its website, Facebook and Twitter over the past 19 days.
The winner was “Hole Location C,” which will be 25 yards on and 4 yards from the water on the right.
Nicklaus, who won the PGA at Oak Hill in 1980, approved of the selection. In fact, he went online and voted for “C” himself.
“Now, if I was in the field, I would look at a hole location like Option C and think, ‘No, no, no.’ I would likely stay away from going at that,” Nicklaus said. “Because Option C is the closest to the water, it’s probably the most dangerous of the hole locations, especially if a player is trying to get it close. But that hole also gives a player an option if he wants to play conservatively, because there is plenty of room short left.”
Rory McIlroy’s chip-in for birdie on the final hole was reminiscent of another great shot on the 18th at Oak Hill. Corey Pavin chipped in for birdie in the final fourball match Saturday afternoon in the 1995 Ryder Cup that gave him and Loren Roberts a 1-up win over Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. More important, it gave the Americans a 9-7 lead going into Sunday singles.
McIlroy is a great student of golf history, though that’s one Ryder Cup highlight the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland has never seen.
Someone recommended he should watch it, and McIlroy turned and smiled.
“Who won that Ryder Cup, anyway?” he said.
Europe won the singles session and rallied to win the Ryder Cup.
Stricker hangs in there
Fifteen years after he first contended for a major, Steve Stricker has another chance in semi-retirement.
This will require quite a bit more work.
“I’m in a decent spot,” Stricker said after an even-par 70 left him four shots behind Jim Furyk. “I’ve got a chance. That’s all I can ask for, I guess.”
Stricker has played sparingly this year, even skipping the British Open as he tries to spend more time with his wife and two children. He’s still among the top players in the game, and the most dangerous on the greens.
“There’s a lot of great players up there on top,” he said. “Furyk is obviously playing well. Adam Scott is up there. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Just have to be patient and go out there and hopefully get off to a good start and get right in the mix real early.”
Stricker shared the 54-hole lead at Sahalee in the 1998 PGA Championship and was runner-up by two shots.
Westwood has hope
Lee Westwood had a 68 that put him at 3-under 207 for the tournament, and when he walked off the course, he thought he might be better off than he was. Oak Hill was tough Saturday in a swirling wind, and the leaders were dropping shots.
“I played with Jonas Blixt and he is 6 under,” Westwood said. “He could quite conceivably be leading at the end of the day. That would only be three off the lead. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the last round of a major.”
Turns out Furyk finished strong for a 68 to reach 9 under. Westwood was six shots behind.
And there’s still no reason to lose hope. Remember, Phil Mickelson was five shots behind Westwood going into the last round at the British Open and won by three.
“So anything is possible on the Sunday of a major,” he said.