Today is a day that feels a little bit sad with a side of joyous. As of right now there is a little feeling that the golf season is slowly winding down. Sure, we have the FedEx Cup Playoffs which I’ve never fully warmed up to and yes we have the “Silly Season” where we see events unofficially kick off the following season with its wraparound season. But today we saw the conclusion of the years final Major Championship.
In Charlotte, North Carolina the PGA Championship was played at Quail Hollow and the chase for the Wanamaker Trophy was on. The tournament gave us a lot of things. First there was the course itself… it was playing soft and long. Webb Simpson was quoted as saying that this was the toughest Quail Hollow that he’s ever seen. Bear in mind that Quail is his home course. We saw moments again where budding superstar Hideki Matsuyama showed signs that he is on the cusp of greatness. He was there all week and as I predicted he might have run out of gas. We saw moments of total shock and awe with a side of unselfishness. From the “buzzer beater” tee shot to beat the horn by Rod Pampling and Dustin Johnson rushing to the 18th tee on Friday to hit his tee shot while playing partners Henrik Stenson and Jason Day were finishing up on 17. The reason… so Day could sleep in on Saturday. Day was quoted as saying that it was “the most clutch thing ever done” for him. This furthers my respect for DJ. Day was also the reason for the shock and awe with the sequence that happened on the 54th hole (18th on Saturday). Wow! I still shake my head.
But more importantly what we saw was the crowning of a new Major Champion. What can I say about Justin Thomas? Yes, I did like him before the tournament begun to win (my last article) but I stuck to my guns with Charley Hoffman as a gut dark horse prediction (T-48th). But the kid is great. Not just as a golfer but great for the game of golf. Earlier in the year Justin became a bit of a folk hero among the golfing masses when he broke NBC’s loudmouthed commentator Johnny Miller’s U.S. Open scoring record. You look at him and he’s not a “knuckle-dragging Neanderthal” he’s relatively small. But in that small boyish frame lies immense power. Carrying the ball 311, 318 down the stretch. He’s a real good ball striker and even though he said on Saturday that he didn’t have his best striking day he scored and found himself in the last two pairings Sunday. Confident… During his post-round interview you sort of sensed something major was about to happen. He’s ultra-competitive (most of the guys are) but there is a fire that burns within. You can see it. But the most important thing that I see when watching Justin Thomas is the fact that you can tell that he loves what he does for a living. There’s a passion and you can tell that he’s having fun out there. It seems that everyone that plays with him is smiling. What I like about JT as well is that he doesn’t back down from anybody. He isn’t afraid to call out the “haters” on social media (Twitter) that have tried to bash him. He sticks up for himself.
Justin Thomas and his “beach buddies” are great for golf. Of course, I am referring to Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Smylie Kaufman. They are exactly the kind of guys we need to carry the torch for golf. They engage the fans, they have fun (the vacation videos and drinking from The Claret Jug) and they really are setting a proper example for the next wave of superstars. It sort of reminds me of another champion (#ArnieWould).
Justin… congratulations on the first of many Major accomplishments.
Until The Next Tee!!