Drama in Darkness at the PGA

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There were fans who so wanted to see the finish of the PGA Championship that they set up at spots early in the morning on Sunday, expecting to be there for an exciting finish about 7 o’clock. But Valhalla absorbed another inch of rain, and the odds of the last group finishing before sunset were getting longer.

For nearly two hours, players and fans waited for the rain to stop. And when play resumed at 2:44, conditions were still difficult for the players and, mores, for the fans. It was a muddy mess in more of the well-traveled areas. New shoes were ruined. People fell.

As sunset approached, fans wondered what if? What if they have to come back tomorrow to finish? What if there’s a playoff? How do I get another day off work?

Ultimately, Rory McIlory, with a birdie on 17, took care of the playoff question, taking a 2-stroke lead. And an act of sportsmanship on 18, in which Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson allowed the last group to play up with them, assured that McIlory would eventually tap in for par on 18 to secure his 2nd Wanamaker Trophy and the $1.8 million first-place check. All in near darkness.

It seemed anti-climactic for the thousands around the final green, who had been waiting all day for this. The golf was great, but not filled with drama. McIlroy had fallen behind by as much as 3 strokes early in the round, but stayed focused, chased down Mickelson and Fowler. The turning point was a miraculous 2nd shot on #10, a 2nd which seemed to have a magnet to roll toward the hole, resting within 7 feet. The eagle put McIlroy in position when his competitors couldn’t finish out strong.

Louisville as a community didn’t disappoint. The golf course, the galleries, were all praised by players and officials. There were no incidents, no one was over-served, and generally everyone was polite. We got a memorable finish and a quality champion, a star-filled leaderboard. And when the PGA comes back, as we know it will, the city will gladly do it all over again.