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Rory McIlroy wins 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah

 

Jim Furyk, 2012 PGA Champion Rory McIlroy, and Geoff Ogilvy at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island

   South Carolinians can now add hosting a major professional golf tournament to their list of accomplishments. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy tamed the mighty Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to win the 2012 PGA Championship by a record margin. The tournament battled a stormy weather pattern and traffic issues all week, but shrugged them off to validate that this location was a smart choice to produce a quality event.            Rory McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship by 8 strokes in the end, which is a new record for margin of victory, besting Jack Nicklaus in that category. This win validates his dominant win at the 2011 U.S. Open where he also cruised to victory with an 8-shot lead. At just over 23 years of age, McIlroy is the fourth youngest PGA Champion, and has now won two majors at a younger age than Tiger Woods needed to complete the same feat.

            The week began with strong thunderstorms and heavy downpours on Tuesday and Wednesday that cut down on practice time players would have at the Ocean Course. Then during round one of the event on Thursday, the sun came out and the players found the damp course ideal for scoring. Many of the pros looked as though they would shatter scoring records relative to par after four rounds, and Rory McIlroy shot a convincing 5-under par.

            But on Friday morning the ocean kicked up a snarling wind that greeted players all day with tough playing conditions, and all of a sudden scoring went the opposite direction. By the end of the day, Friday at the Ocean Course would go down in history as the highest-scoring round (by average) that the PGA Championship had ever seen. McIlroy was 3-over par on Friday, but considering that many players missed the cut by shooting scores in the 80’s, Rory had weathered the storm.

            After two days of competition were completed it was Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh atop the leaderboard and it appeared that the old guard from the PGA would control their destiny from the prized position of being in the final group. When the third round commenced on Saturday though, Tiger Woods appeared to have lost his touch in two ways, the control of his ball flight off the tee, and his putting stroke. Singh also faltered, while McIlroy played effortlessly on a golf course that was beginning to wear down other players.

            Not surprisingly, a Saturday afternoon thunderstorm rolled over the Ocean Course, and delayed the third round, also known as ‘moving day’ for the PGA, Glory’s Last Shot. When play resumed early on Sunday morning, McIlroy played his way into the final pairing for the fourth round and never looked back again. The rest of the field played up and down on Sunday, while McIlroy surged ahead with a hot putter and solid ball-striking that could compare favorably to a Tiger-Woods-in-his-prime type performance.

            McIlroy made no bogeys during his final round of play, and has now become just the 18th player in history to win both a U.S. Open and a PGA Championship. McIlroy can now set his sights on the next major, which happens in eight months over in Augusta at The Masters. Of course, there is a small matter to be contested in late September between Europe and the USA known as the Ryder Cup that will also require his attention.

            The 2012 PGA Championship shines a spotlight on the beauty of the Ocean Course for the world to see, and local golfers should embrace the opportunity to visit and play this course at some point. Why? Because it will teach golfers humility and also show them how to play towards their strengths and away from their weaknesses in order to endure the test that course designer Pete Dye has arranged. I have not played the Ocean Course before, and would consider myself fortunate if I were to tee it up, put it in play, take on the wind and give it my bet shot!

 

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com

 

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (341 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com