Kaymer breaks through at PGA
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2010 US PGA Championship | Round Four | 16 Aug 2010
25 year old German Martin Kaymer has today won the 92nd PGA Championship after a gripping and dramatic final day at Whistling Straits.
Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson by one shot in a three hole aggregate playoff after Watson had taken the early lead with a birdie at the first extra hole. Kaymer birdied the par three 17th hole (the second of the playoff) and was then afforded the luxury of a bogey at the last to hold out Watson, who found the hazard short of the green with his approach.
It was a day where as many as ten players had chances of winning with just nine holes to play. Such were the vagaries of the closing nine holes at this Pete Dye designed layout that any one of those ten could well have emerged as the winner.
In the end however it would be three players who would finish at 11 under. That was of course before the difficult but necessary decision to impose a two shot penalty on Dustin Johnson after he had grounded his club in what he did not recognise as a bunker.
That mistake came at the 72nd hole after consecutive birdies at the 16th and 17th had edged him ahead of Watson and Kaymer who had already completed their rounds and were awaiting their fate.
Johnson, who covered himself in glory in the manner in which he had bounced back from his final round meltdown at the US Open two months earlier, needed only a par at the last to secure his first major championship.
A par at Whistling Straits’ final hole however was never going to be an easy task especially with the possibility of such a significant title at stake. When his tee shot finished amongst the crowd right of the fairway, Johnson scrambled amongst the throngs and hit from a bunker which he could be excused for thinking was not.
Perhaps it was his lack of clear vision amongst the huge crowd surrounding him or a lack of a clear mind in the heat of the battle but Johnson grounded the club during set up. Although he took bogey and joined Watson and Kaymer at 11 under, it soon became apparent there was a query over his second shot.
Ten minutes later it was determined that Johnson would incur a two shot penalty and so the three man playoff was reduced to two.
“I don’t know if I can describe it,” Johnson told CBS’ David Feherty soon after the decision. “You know, walking up there, seeing the shot, it never once crossed my mind that I was in a sand trap. I guess it’s very unfortunate. I guess the only worse thing that could have happened is if I made that putt on the last hole. I never once thought that I was in a sand trap.”
So many came and went on a superb final day. Weather conditions were perfect the firming golf course and strengthening breezes creating a demanding but fair test on day four.
Just as had been the case in his playing partner’s demise at Pebble Beach, the three shot 54 hole leader, Nick Watney, came unstuck early with a double bogey at the very first hole and he never really recovered. The three shot difference between he and Dustin Johnson was wiped out at that very hole when Johnson birdied. When he found the water at the 7th and took triple bogey Watney had essentially extinguished any chance he had. He went on to record a round of 81 and finish in a share of 18th.
The eventual winner, Kaymer, quickly emerged from the pack and by the 10th hole he was three under for the day, 12 under for the tournament and two ahead of Johnson and Steve Elkington.
Ahead on the golf course, Bubba Watson was emerging as a threat. Starting the day six shots behind the lead, Watson used his great length to good advantage at the par five 5th, finishing just ten feet behind the hole and when he holed that he was within two of the lead. While that moved him into contention it was his late charge that gave him a piece of the lead. He birdied the 13th, 14th and 16th and when he had he shared the lead with Kaymer.
A tee shot missing the green left at the 17th at Whistling Straits is never good and it would not be for Watson. He could only manage bogey but courtesy of a bogey at the 15th by Kaymer he still had a share of the lead although Rory McIlory had also joined he and Kaymer at 11 under.
Elkington had a great chance to grab the outright lead when his second the par five 16th finished 12 feet from the hole but although he hit a good putt it did not fall. The 1995 champion was however then in a four way tie for the lead. At the next Elkington hit a great tee shot to the dangerous 17th but it rolled through the back and he could not make par. A three putt bogey at the last and the 47 year old’s brave challenge was gone.
Watson two putted from 70 feet at the last for par and at that point he stood at 11 under with a share of the lead with Kaymer. Soon after Johnson would make it a three way tie after he birdied the 16th and McIlory bogeyed the 15th and then importantly had missed a great birdie opportunity at the 16th.
Kaymer made a miraculous par save at the last from short of the green to remain at 11 under and then had a 20 minute wait to see what Johnson could do. Johnson would of course become irrelevant because of his inadvertent rules infringement. A birdie at the 17th gave him the lead outright his 10 foot putt at the last for par, should he had made it, would have given him the title, albeit temporarily.
Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson tied for third, the third such placing by McIlroy in his last five major championships. He will win one before too long.
Kaymer’s victory moves him to number 5 in the world and adds even further strength and belief to the European Ryder Cup challenge in 2010.
Watson’s runner up finish will ensure he is in the US Team without the need for a nod from the US Captain. He was excited by the prospect.
“You’re playing for your country. You’re playing for the USA. Until 2016, we don’t have an Olympics. That’s my Olympics. I’ve wanted to play The Ryder Cup my whole life.”
“I’ve made many a putts when I was eight and ten years old to win The Ryder Cup. So why would you not want to play for your country? Win or lose, when we get to The Ryder Cup, we all want to win, but at the same time you represent your country and we want to represent our country well.”
“I’m happy. I get to go home and see my dad tomorrow and (tearing up). I get to say I made The Ryder Cup.”
The Australian challenge was headed by Elkington who shared 5th after a stunning performance. His round of 71 was arguably a lot better than the score would indicate. Bogeys at his final two holes coast him his chance of becoming the third oldest ever to win a major championship but he showed there is still a lot of game left in him. He shared 5th with Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner.
Jason Day gave cause for hope when he birdied the 3rd to challenge for the lead but he failed to birdie the par five 5th and then a costly double bogey at the 9th all but ended his chances. To have finished where he did in just his second major championship however gave a further insight into just how good the 22 year old is and will become. He finished in a share of 10th position.
Adam Scott finished 39th, Marc Leishman 48th and Stuart Appleby 68th.