It was a two-man race in the final round of the PGA Championship, with Jason Dufner and Jim Furyk exchanging birdies throughout the front nine in the final pairing on Sunday. The day started with a loaded leaderboard, which included world-class players such as Adam Scott, Steve Stricker and Henrik Stenson, but no one came close to challenging the final pairing of Dufner and Furyk.
Dufner, who blew a five-shot lead in the final four holes at this event two years ago in Atlanta, turned it on early to pick up three birdies and go out in 32. He's considered one of the steadiest ball strikers in the world, and was all over the flagstick throughout the final round. Two brilliant approach shots pushed him to a two-shot cushion over Furyk on the back nine. His shot into No. 8 was nearly his second hole-out eagle of the week, but this time he settled for a tap-in birdie. With wedge in hand on No. 16, Dufner officially sealed it with another near-eagle:
And despite Furyk's best efforts to hang around, that would be it for the season's final major. The Sunday victory was set up on Friday by that majors record-matching round of 63, which propelled him to the midpoint lead. He joins Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Raymond Floyd, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods as the group of players to get that record and go on to win.
Oak Hill was set up perfectly by the PGA of America on Sunday, with lots of birdies available and chances for players down the board to make a run at the final group. There was Keegan Bradley, who birdied six of his first 13 holes to demonstrate to the chasers, like Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, that there was an outside shot to come from behind. Bradley dropped a couple shots coming into the clubhouse, but his playing partner, Hideki Matsuyama, also birdied five of his first six holes after the turn. Miguel Angel Jimenez had his second five straight birdie streak of the week, but unfortunately for the Mechanic, there were some ugly crooked numbers mixed in.
With those birdies piling up in front of him, McIlroy, the most accomplished name on the first page of the leaderboard, knew he had to post a couple red numbers early to put the pressure on Dufner and Furyk, who've shown Sunday nerves in recent years. Rory picked up a birdie on his third hole of the day, but on the par-5 4th, one of only two par-5s on the course and a must-make birdie, he blasted a short bunny putt past the hole. His chances of going back-to-back at the season's final major were officially extinguished on No. 5, when he made triple bogey after his ball was gobbled up by the false front and spun into the water:
Rory at least had a fighting chance starting the day inside the top 10. The two players ahead of him in the world rankings, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, were simply playing out the string so they could board their private jets and get the hell out of town. Mickelson played in the second group out at 8:35 a.m., navigating Oak Hill in three hours with his fourth straight round over par, a 72.
Phil's approach is always feast or famine -- this year alone, he finished in fourth-to-last at the Masters trying to go big on the weekend, and then shot 66 at the British to come from behind and run away with it. After that he said he was playing the best golf of his career, but it was all gone just three weeks later, blowing up on Saturday with driver back in the bag for a 78. Phil finished 12-over, in third-to-last place, and was on his jet back to California with his Claret Jug before the leaders even got to the course.
As for Tiger, he didn't have quite the spectacular implosion like Phil, but he also never broke par during his four-day stay in Rochester. It was a remarkable departure from the dominance of last week at the Bridgestone, where he was in the 60s three times and crushed 48 of the top 50 in the world. Woods shot his best round of the tournament on Sunday, an even-par round of 70 on the back of a bogey-free, three-birdie inward 32. But that little nine-hole hot streak at the end was far too little, too late, and Woods' chances were likely gone at the 36-hole mark on Friday. He'll turn his attention to the FedExCup Playoffs later this month, but we're now set for eight months of questions and narrative about his weekend struggles at the majors and what is now almost a six-year drought.
Here are your complete results from the season's final major:
|Place||Player||Score||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Total|
|T29||Rafael Cabrera Bello||2||68||75||69||70||282|
|T33||Brendon de Jonge||3||71||71||71||70||283|