KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 12: Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits off the first tee during the Final Round of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 12, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
USPGA Championship - Review
The last major championship of the year is over and I have to wait until April next year to play another one. I would love to play majors every week of the year if it was possible, however I suppose if they were every week then they just wouldn’t be majors. Part of the mystique of a major is that there are only four of them and once they are over you have to wait seven months for the next one.
Last week in Kiawah was a week of nearly for me. I got off to a decent start by shooting two under but a poor second round of 76 knocked me back. Then over the weekend I shot three under and level par but in both rounds I let shots go over the back nine.
I went into the week feeling good about my game, as I have been for a long time now and knowing that I was capable of winning. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be with a few holes over the course of the week cost me really competing. In the end I finished in a tie for 18th, which is a very disappointing finish as I was on four under after nine holes of the final round and ended up on one under.
Looking back on the week it was not what I was looking for - I came into the week looking to add to my three majors and finished in a tie for 18th. My finishing position is a lot worse than I actually played - I got myself right up the leader board on Sunday but a couple of poor shots cost me dearly. On another day I may have got away with them and ended up finishing in the top three. That said when I was four under I was only thinking of making more birdies so as to try and get to a score that might have a chance to win - I wasn’t thinking about finishing in a high position.
My game during the week was solid and I was happy with my focus and routines - they weren’t perfect but were a lot better than they have been. I missed a few putts from inside eight feet, but in general my putting was better. I am happy that I have figured out what I need to do with it and am confident that it will come around soon. The area of my game that really let me down was my chipping - I hit a lot of poor chip shots during the week. My final round was a great example - on the first two holes I had straightforward chip shots but failed to get them up and down and it wasn’t the fault of the putting. This is something that I will be putting a lot more time into over the next few weeks.
In the end it turned out that nobody had a chance of catching Rory - he was on fire on Sunday and even though Ian Poulter made a run at him early in the round it didn’t matter as Rory was making birdies himself. It was a fantastic win by him and to win two majors by eight shots is amazing. I'm sure, like myself, he wishes there was another major next week.
The other disappointing thing about last week is that I didn’t make any inroads in the Ryder Cup standings. I knew that I really needed to win here this week to get myself into the team and so tied 18th is no good and so it looks like I am relying on a pick.
However, overall I had a good majors year and played well enough on the Sunday of both the Masters and the US Open to win. I have been told that I finished third in the overall scoring for the majors this year, which shows consistency, but I would rather have won one and missed the cut in the other three!
Now that the majors are over it is now time to turn my attention to the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai. I am having a week off this coming week for a family holiday and then heading to Bethpage for The Barclays, the start of the FedEx Cup Play-Offs.
Well done to Rory on his second major - I have no doubt it is the second of many.
Padraig shoots a final round of level par 72 which sees him finish in a tie for 18th place at the last Major of the year. The event was won by fellow Irishman, Rory McIllroy who stormed to an eight shot victory. Padraig got off to a slow start with a pair of fives to open his round but four birdies followed including three consecutive from his 7th hole to have him out in 33 shots and in a tie for 4th place heading into the back nine. Bogies on his 10th and 13th holes were costly and he flew the 15th green to finish in a hazard and recorded a double bogey six. He nearly got those two shots back when he hit two superb shots to the par five 16th hole and just missed his eagle chance from twelve feet. Three good performances in the majors this year are encouraging!
Superb third round of three under par 69 leaves Padraig at one under par for the tournament and only five behind the leaders. Play was suspended due to bad weather and most of the leaders will have to come back Sunday morning to finish their rounds. Padraig got the start he needed with four birdies in his first eight holes to be out in 32 shots but a double six on the par four 10th hole put paid to his great charge. To his credit he birdied the par three 17th hole where he holed a bunker shot to finish the day on a high note.
Padraig shoots a second round of four over par 76 and moves up a place in the field on a day when the wind blew and the Ocean course really showed its teeth. Five bogies and just one birdie made up his card and his two over halfway total is only six behind the leaders at four under par.
Fine opening round for Padraig as he shoots a solid two under par 70 which leaves him tied for 25th position. This is well placed with the leaders at six under par as Padraig has an early tee time Friday and will be hoping for a repeat of the calm conditions Thursday morning. An eagle three on the par five second hole got Padraigs round off to the perfect start but dropped shots on the third and ninth holes had him out in level par. He rallied to play the tougher back nine in two under par with birdies on the 12th and 15th holes. All to play for!
Padraig is at Kiawah Island for the last major of the year, the USPGA Championship. The infamous Pete Dye designed Ocean course plays to nearly 7700 yards and with wind and rain forecast will play as Jim Furyk described "brutal"! Padraig who won the championship in 2008 will be hoping for a repeat as he attempts to make an 8th consecutive Ryder Cup appearance. He tees off late Thursday at 1.40pm and early Friday at 8.30am local time in the company of former winners, Phil Mickelson and Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love.
USPGA Championship - Preview
The final major of the year has arrived - it only seems like yesterday that I was getting ready for the Masters and here I am finishing my preparation for the USPGA. This year we are in South Carolina playing the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. I have played two tournaments here as a pro; the World Cup in 1997, which Paul McGinley and I won, and then the World Cup again in 2003. Even though it is a long time since I was here last it is always nice to come back to a place where you have good memories.
I got here very early Monday morning as it was a four and half hour flight and a three-hour time change from Reno. It was probably about three in the morning when I got to bed, because of this I took it easy on Monday morning and didn’t go to the course until lunchtime. When I got there I spent a good bit of time talking to Bob Rotella about how last week went and what I felt about my game. We got through a lot things and I feel that it really helped in terms of what I need to do in my routines. Afterwards I spent about two and half hours chipping and putting. I didn’t play on the course or hit any shots on the range as I felt it was better to have an easy day and play the course on Tuesday and Wednesday. Having spoken to Bob the conclusions that we came to made my routines feel a lot better when I was practising.
On Tuesday I planned on playing 18 holes at about 12pm but just after I got warmed up and was ready to go the hooter went for a thunderstorm. It lasted about an hour and half. I then wanted to play about 12 holes as I had to be finished by 5.30pm, as the Champions Dinner was on Tuesday evening. In fact, I got out for my first look at the course just before 2pm and played 15 holes. As I was playing the course the holes were coming back to me from when I played here before. This time around the course is much softer as there has been a lot rain over the last couple of weeks. When I played here last it was towards the end of the season when it is typically dryer. That said the course is in amazing condition, as good as a course can be. The greens are perfect, not a blemish on them. It is definitely one of the best-conditioned courses that I have played on and the lay-out of the course is also very good. I really like the design of the greens; the run-offs make it very interesting and put a lot of pressure on your short game.
On Wednesday I played nine holes and did a small bit of practice, not as much as I had planned as we had another hour-long delay. I have played 24 holes in practice, really like the course and I am feeling good about my game. I have been playing well all year, although my putting has held me back, but I feel that I have got some good work done on it this week with Bob.
I am looking forward to getting started and feel that I have prepared well for the week. I haven’t done too much practise as I want to make sure that I am fresh for the start. It is important to be fresh for any major but with the weather forecast for the week suggesting there will be thunder and lightening delays, it looks like it is even more important.
I am here looking to add to my major tally. I know that I am playing well enough to win here; the important thing is to remain patient and not try too hard. As always I am looking to get myself into contention on Sunday afternoon and take my chances from there.
I am drawn with two other former PGA Champions for the first two rounds, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love. We are late on Thursday and then early Friday; it’s a good draw as the guys are great to play with.