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Kaymer, Watson overshadowed by Johnson
Kevin Currie, Golf Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Dustin Johnson walked away from the PGA Championship as the big story because of his final-hole penalty.
What was overlooked was the fact that the penalty gave him a one-over 73 for the final round. Had Johnson shot 71, including the penalty, he would have been part of the playoff.
I won't say Johnson played poorly in the final round, but he needed three birdies on the back nine just to get back into position for the win.
While Johnson was the story, overlooked was Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson's battle for the title. Kaymer was near the top of the leaderboard all afternoon thanks to his two-under 70. Watson carded three birdies on the back nine to be the first one finished at 11-under 277, as he closed with a four-under 68.
Kaymer's round included a bogey on the 15th, while Watson tripped to a bogey on the 17th of regulation. Wipe away either of those bogeys and there is no playoff.
Including Johnson, all three players were fighting for their first major championship title. With Johnson out of the playoff, Watson looked in command with a birdie on the first extra hole.
However, at the difficult par-three 17th, Kaymer dropped his tee ball within 12 feet and poured in the birdie effort. Watson made par so the two players were tied at six strokes apiece after the first two playoff holes.
Much as the 18th did Johnson in with his penalty, and overlooked poor second shot, Watson hit two poor shots on the final hole of the playoff to put Kaymer in the driver's seat.
Watson and Johnson are two of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, yet Watson was out-driven by Kaymer on the final playoff hole.
Playing from the rough, Watson thought his ball would jump out of the gnarly lie. Unfortunately for him, it didn't. His second came up some 25 yards short of the green in Seven Mile Creek.
Kaymer, who was also in the right rough, had a much worse lie. After watching Watson's ball splash into the water, Kaymer made the sensible play and pitched down the fairway.
The German hit his third to 15 feet to put pressure on Watson. The left- hander from Florida pitched over the green with his fourth, then chipped his fifth to about two feet.
It was all up to Kaymer. Two putts and he hoists the Wanamaker Trophy. He rolled his par effort just inside Watson's mark. Watson tapped in for double- bogey before Kaymer kicked in his winning bogey putt.
Kaymer has won five titles since 2008 on the European Tour, but this was his first on the PGA and his first major championship crown.
He became the first German to win a major since Bernhard Langer claimed his second Masters title in 1993.
Watson easily could have been crushed by the loss, but was strangely upbeat after the defeat. The reason he was in a better mood than anticipated was the fact that he accomplished one of his life-long goals, qualifying to be a member of the United States Ryder Cup team.
The 25-year-old Kaymer claimed his first major, while the 31-year-old Watson coughed up a chance at his first major victory, but proved there is more than winning sometimes.
And remember it wasn't just Johnson that struggled on the final day. The two playoff combatants came from the sixth-to-last group (Watson) and third-to- last group (Kaymer).
Had anyone else in those final six groups, say Jim Furyk, Steve Elkington, Rory McIlroy or Nick Watney, thrown up a low score on Sunday, said person would have made Johnson's troubles and Kaymer's win a moot point.
That didn't happen, so let's celebrate the champion and not dwell on what could have been.
EVERY'S SUSPENSION COME AT A CURIOUS TIME
PGA Tour rookie Matthew Every was arrested in a hotel back in July when he was caught in a room where marijuana was being smoked. The case has not gone through the court system as of yet, but the PGA Tour has made its ruling.
Before Every, or his lawyers, could plead the charges down or even plead guilty, the PGA Tour suspended Every for three months for 'conduct unbecoming' a PGA Tour player.
Golf Week magazine reported the suspension, and Every's agent later confirmed it to various media outlets. The PGA Tour does not comment on player suspensions.
The timing of the suspension is curious, in relation to when Every can return as well as his tour status going forward.
He will be eligible to return for the final event of the Fall Series, the Children's Miracle Network Classic, while he battles to keep his tour card.
Every currently stands 144th on the money list. By the time he returns, he'll surely be lower on that list and will need a tremendous finish at that event. The tour could have suspended him a week later, therefore wiping out any chance he would have at keeping his tour card for next year, but didn't go that far.
He will have a chance at getting into the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list, the cut-off for players to retain their playing privileges for next year. Every would likely need to win or finish solo second to earn enough money to jump inside the top 125.
Those finishing from 126-150 on the money list maintain conditional status for next year, but aren't guaranteed entrance into events.
The question in my mind is that if Every is unable to finish inside either the top 125 or top 150, would he be eligible for an extension of his eligibility from this year?
Normally, those extensions are granted due to injury, or extenuating circumstances such as a death or illness in the family that kept a player off the tour for an extended period of time.
In Every's case, he was suspended so it is unlikely he can get by trying to fight for more eligibility, though it makes for an interesting case.
- This week's Wyndham Championship is huge for those outside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list. The top 125 players get into next week's first playoff event, The Barclays, but only the top 100 play the following week at the Deutsche Bank Championship. A win this week for someone like Brendan Pappas, currently No. 200 on the points list, would be huge. Pappas could jump from 200th into the mid-60s, which would get him into the first two events and a strong finish in either of those would secure the third event as well.
- Tiger Woods finished outside the top 10 in the last two majors for the first time since he went three straight outside the top 10 from the 2003 PGA Championship to the '04 U.S. Open.