It’s only five years since the USPGA Championship last travelled to Whistling Straits in Winsconsin. In 2010 Martin Kaymer came out on top after a thrilling, incident-packed week. Here’s the story of that championship.
Martin Kaymer went into the 2010 USPGA Championship ranked 13th in the World. He’d won at the start of the year in Abu Dhabi and he’d performed well in the WGC events and the Majors. He’d placed in the top-10 in both the US Open and The Open Championship.
Despite that, the German arrived at Whistling Straits flying a little under the radar. Much of the press interest was, inevitably, focused on a weary Tiger Woods. The World Number 1 had played pretty desperately at the previous week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, he was battling yet more injuries and his divorce was about to come through after a very testing year in which he had to face up to some fairly significant off-course issues.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson was installed as the favourite, given Woods’ form concerns, but young Rory McIlroy was also receiving a great deal of attention. He had led The Open Championship at St Andrews the previous month after an opening round of 63, only to blow up in round two with an 80. Lee Westwood was out with a hand injury but Britain was well represented with 13 English starters, two Scots, two Northern Irishmen and a Welshman in Rhys Davies.
Fog meant the first round was delayed by over three hours and when play was suspended on Thursday evening, only half the field had completed their first rounds. At that stage Francesco Molinari and Bubba Watson led the way on 68. They were joined on that score by Ernie Els and No Seung-yul when play resumed on Friday, but all were surpassed by consistent American Matt Kuchar who fired a 67.
Kaymer opened steadily with a level-par 72, McIlroy posted a 71, as did Tiger Woods. Mickelson was left disappointed with a one-over-par 73. Neither Woods nor Mickelson would get into contention, although both made the cut and Mickelson finished strongly with a 67 to finish the week tied for 12th. Tiger was tied 28th.
Martin Kaymer – swing sequence:
Kuchar continued to lead the way after a solid 69 with Nick Watney his closest pursuer, one shot behind. Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy moved onto the first page of the leaderboard after posting 68s. Kaymer also scored 68 to get within touching distance.
“Moving day” lived up to its billing as the leaderboard was changed quite significantly after 54 holes had been completed. Kuchar dropped back with a 73 while Watney pressed on with a 66 to take the lead at 13-under-par. Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy continued to push forward and were nipping at Watney’s heels, both 10-under after rounds of 67. Jason Day made his move with a 66, as did Kaymer who carded a 67 to reach nine-under-par, four back of Watney. Also on that mark was China’s Liang Wen-Chong. He played a fabulous, course-record third round of 64 to give himself a chance to become China’s first Major champion. He didn’t manage it, but did finish in the top-10.
The final day was an absolute belter with seven different players holding the lead, or a share of the lead, at some point during the round. Watney got off to a poor start with a double-bogey on the first hole. Things didn’t improve for him and he collapsed to a disastrous 81. Veteran Aussie Steve Elkington made a run but bogeyed the last two holes to finish two back. Bubba Watson set the clubhouse target at 11-under-par and then Kaymer, who had led for much of the round, made a crucial, par-saving putt on the final green to match the left-hander at 11 below. Rory McIlroy had a chance to join them on that number but missed a birdie effort on the final green. He finished tied third.
When Dustin Johnson birdied the 16th and 17th holes to reach 12-under-par, the title was his to lose. And lose it he did. His drive on the 18th found one of the waste areas and he was unable to save par from there. He made a bogey and, seemingly, tied Bubba and Kaymer on 11-under. But, after a review, it was clear that Johnson had grounded his club in the waste area and, as they were classed as bunkers for the week, he was penalised a stroke and fell back, finishing one behind.
The title was to be decided over a three-hole playoff on the 10th, 17th and 18th holes. Watson took the lead after a monster drive and a resulting birdie on the 10th, but Kaymer struck back with a superb birdie two at the 17th. The 18th was a bit of a shambles. Both men drove into the rough then Watson’s second found a water hazard in front of the green. Kaymer played conservatively and was on in three, 15 feet from the cup. Watson’s fourth shot went through the green but he almost holed a bunker shot for a five. Kaymer took two putts (the second a little longer than he would have liked) for a five and his first Major title.
It had been quite a week’s golf. If this year’s event can come close to matching the drama and excitement of the 2010 tournament, we’re in for a treat.