Well, folks, the PGA season is winding down with the last major upon us. It has been a sharknado of a week for the PGA, one ripe with scandal and injury. Who better to break it all down than Wayniac Nation’s own golf expert, Mike Dunton. Fresh off his successful British Open prediction, Dunton breaks down the wild stories and expectations for the upcoming PGA Championship.
It’s here. It’s the week leading up to golf’s final shot at glory (or as I like to call it, Rory’s Chance at Immortality Week). The PGA has certainly had their hands full this past week. Since Thursday they have had one of their stars suspended (or not suspended) for cocaine, and it’s biggest star injured his back again which in turn has led to allegations of, dare I say, performance enhancing drugs. It’s not quite the weekend the PGA envisioned leading up to it’s final major, but that’s the way the golf world crumbles. Before we jump into what’s in store for the PGA Championship, let’s break down two of the bigger stories to rock the golf world this season.
This past Thursday, Dustin Johnson announced he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons. A mere 24 hours later, we were told that Dustin tested positive for cocaine, only to be told a few short hours later that the PGA would not confirmed this report. So did he or didn’t he get a case of the sniffles? Well, folks, that was just the tip of the eight ball… I mean, iceberg. The more this story unfolds, the more twists and turns it takes. What is the most intriguing part of the latest Dustin Johnson soap opera? Is it that this is apparently the third failed drug test in the past five years (don’t worry, only two were for cocaine, one was for marijuana and everybody gets suspended for that these days!)? Or was it the whispers that some of the wives (at least two) of PGA tour players liked Dustin’s Johnson and it led to at least one marriage dissolving? Who and what do we believe here? One thing we do know is that the PGA likes to stay tight lipped about their stars and we will probably never hear directly from them why Dustin is off the tour for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of being off of the tour for the foreseeable future, Tiger hurt his back….again. I hope that I am wrong, but this could be the end of Tiger as we know him. I don’t want to admit it but I think Tiger has fallen so much that it would come as no surprise to see him boxing Dustin “Screech” Diamond in a few years. Tiger’s latest setback could be the end of his season, and as far as I am concerned the definite end to his Ryder Cup chances. Yes, they were outside chances at best, chances I believed would better the US team, but now Tom Watson has an easy out: “Tiger, I can’t pick you. Your back could go out at any point and it’s a risk I’m not willing to take.” Even the ultra competitive Tiger would have to agree to that.
What’s more interesting here is the number of sports writers and analysts that were no longer whispering it, but talking openly about the rumor that maybe Tiger was on the juice all those years. How can we not buy into this rumor now? Look at the Dustin Johnson story: THREE failed drug tests. The PGA didn’t provide one bit of help for a guy who clearly needed it. But that’s Dustin Johnson, not their cash cow. There is no way the PGA would have allowed Tiger to be implicated in the performance enhancing scandal of the early 2000s, but now maybe these rumors are not so far-fetched. We have seen firsthand how the PGA handles their stars, and Dustin is not even in the same universe as Tiger. If the PGA doesn’t start coming forward with some information, then they are going to have a lot of explaining to do. This is a battle that dwarfs pace of play and bigger cups (but that’s a rant for another time).
So we enter the PGA Championship week with a lot of scandal at the forefront. Let’s try to look at the one of the positives. Rory McIlroy could be the savior of the 2014 PGA season. He wins the Open Championship (as yours truly and McIlroy’s father both predicted), backs it up with a win at the WGC Firestone and goes to Kentucky as the clear favorite to win his second Wannamaker Trophy. Rory has it all going on right now. He is putting off the charts and ball striking from the fairway like another former 25-year old number one once did. What really separates Rory from the rest right now is his driving. He is absolutely lapping the field in driving distance and is not too far off in accuracy. The display he put on the past two weekends was off the charts and has him back at number one in the world. Rory goes to Valhalla as a 5-1 favorite and I can see him pulling off the trifecta in Louisville.
There is one guy who I feel may be able to compete with Rory this weekend. That guy is… drum roll… Rickie Fowler. Why him? It’s simple math at this point. Rickie finished T-5th at the Masters and T-2nd in the US Open and Open Championship. In fact, according to CBSSports Rickie has beaten 98% of the field at the three majors this season. That is an impressive year that has to put him in the discussion to claim this week’s title. I like where Rickie’s game is at right now, and Valhalla has gone through some renovations that are hoping to yield low scores. Rickie has earned a spot in the conversation and the PGA would love to see him win. Can we start the Rickie vs. Rory final pairing for Sunday at the Ryder Cup now? That could be must see TV that golf, and more importantly, the PGA needs to get back on track.