No Tiger, no problem for pro golf

Maybe golf doesn’t need Tiger Woods after all.

It certainly didn’t need him at the last major tournament of the year -the PGA Championship -which provided us with four days of entertainment and excitement.

In his quest to catch and/or pass Jack Nicklaus as the all-time winner of major tournaments, it was, er, painfully obvious that Woods came back too quickly from his latest injury, missing the cut and the weekend, which provided us with as much drama as a golf tournament can.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a major where six players were tied for the lead on Sunday with another three just one stroke behind. But I saw it Sunday and like everyone else who was watching, I liked what I saw.

Those who were in contention included several of the world’s best players -Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and even Ernie Els, who came from way back to be one of the challengers.

We also had our virtual unknowns in Bernd Wiesberger and Mikko Ilonen who aren’t exactly household names, except in their own homes.

Eventually, the foursome of McIlroy, Fowler, Mickelson and Stenson separated themselves from the others and put on a show that ended virtually in the dark, when McIlroy finally sank a short putt to win his second straight major tournament, becoming the first golfer to do so since Padraig Harrington in 2008.

With his victory, McIlroy not only maintained his status atop the world golf rankings, but also ensured that he will be the PGA Player of the Year when that prestigious award is presented.

The victory marked the fourth major title for McIlroy, who became the third youngest player in golf history to achieve that mark. I’m sure you guess who the two youngest are -Nicklaus and Woods.

As great as McIlroy’s accomplishments are, even he has to marvel at what Ricky Fowler achieved in 2014’s four major tournaments.

Although he didn’t win one, Fowler finished in the top five in all four, with a pair of seconds, a third and a fifth.

Not only has McIlroy replaced Woods as the world’s top player but Fowler and Phil Mickelson have established themselves as the leaders of the United States team for the Ryder Cup.

A team that likely won’t include Woods, who has done little of late to merit serious consideration by captain Tom Watson.

When the Ryder Cup is contested next month, the U.S. will be a decided underdog, whether or not Woods is on the team.

The event will take place in Scotland, meaning the European team will have the home field advantage, playing on a links course.

Also, since Europe won the last Ryder Cup, it will keep the title if the event ends in a tie. Plus, the depth of the talent on the European team looks far superior to what Watson will have available.

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