CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Langston Wertz Jr. The Charlotte Observer) – There was a lot of discussion about Sunday’s PGA Championship final round, on social media and elsewhere, about the lack of big names on the leaderboard.
Around 5 p.m., when five guys were tied for the lead, that talk was done.
Only way this Major Sunday gets even better is if somebody aces the par-4 14th. #PGAChamp
— #TalkingGolfGetaways (@GetawaysGolf) August 13, 2017
With golfers dealing with mud balls, nerves and a wickedly difficult finishing streak at Quail Hollow — plus fan favorite Rickie Fowler making a run — the 99th PGA Championship delivered plenty of drama, and got social media all riled up.
What a logjam at the top…. #PGAChamp Anyone from 6-7 players can win
— V Krishnaswamy (@Swinging_Swamy) August 13, 2017
Ultimately, Justin Thomas became your winner.
Thomas, you may recall, shot a 63 in the third round of the U.S. Open earlier this year to move into a tie for second. But on Sunday, he followed up the 63 with a 75 in a forgettable final round when he fell out of championship contention early in the day.
But Sunday in Charlotte, Thomas — close friends with British Open champ Jordan Spieth — kept his composure, making a key putt on 16 and launching a pretty iron on 17 that led to a birdie and a two-shot lead.
Thomas, 24, got a bonus birdie en route to the win on No. 10 when he drove it left and had the ball hit a tree and bounce back into the fairway. Then he hit an approach and a birdie putt that looked like it might not go. Then it did.
Perhaps then, he should’ve known that it was his day.
Jason’s Day, Part II
After making one of the more curious decisions in golf major championship history, and having Nick Faldo chastise him about it, Jason Day dropped four shots of the 18th hole Saturday and fell well behind the leaders.
Day didn’t talk to the media after his round, but did pull it together overnight, making birdie on his first hole. He holed out a pretty sweet bunker shot. Day finished minus-1 for the tournament, in a tie for 10th. He shot a 1-under 70 Sunday.
Jason Day’s last eight holes:
— Sean Zak (@Sean_Zak) August 13, 2017
Chris Stroud’s pregame routine
TNT had a nice pre-round interview with underdog Chris Stroud, a 35-year-old former college All-American at Lavar University. Stroud turned pro in 2004 and made the PGA Tour in 2006. In all, he’s made the cut in 115 of his 290 starts and made nearly $11 million. He got his first win in last week’s Barracuda Championship in Nevada.
Stroud has carried that momentum into this week’s PGA Championship. He started the final round of the PGA Championship in the final group. Was he nervous?
In his pre-round interview, it sure didn’t seem like it.
Stroud said he talked to his daughter, who told him if he won he would get a big trophy and a lot of money. He said he told her that was nice and all, but he looked forward to getting home to a hand-made gift she had made for him. As for his strategy Sunday, Stroud planned to keep calm and let everyone else get nervous, and he didn’t spend a second watching the early morning coverage on TNT. His pre-round routine included watching one of his favorite movies, “Bull Durham.”
His attitude struck a chord with some fans.
I hope Chris Stroud can win this. The guy really understands that golf is just a bonus and there are more important things in life.
— Garrett Harrison (@akagravy) August 13, 2017
Of course, Twitter being Twitter, Stroud’s choice of wearing printed pants on a Sunday in a major did not go unnoticed
Kokrak’s showing off is knees and his game
Big hitting Jason Kokrak hit his ball near the creek on No. 18 Sunday and decided to play the ball, rolling up his pants and smacking a high shot right onto the green. It was one of the best shots of the day. And he made par on the hole.
Kokrak, incidentally, lives in Charlotte with his fiance’ Stephanie and a rescue dog named Licorice.
Then John Rahm hits the shot of the day
Just when you thought Kokrak had hit the shot of the day, John Rahm goes backwards — on the same hole.
No use explaining. Just watch.
Wait, then Louis hits the shot of the day
Several hours after Kokrak’s magic, Louis Oosthuizen chipped in on the par-5 15th to get within two shots of the lead late in the day.