Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing email@example.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today we kick around the question of why so many little-knowns (let's not call them "no-names," OK?) seem to play so well at the PGA Championship. And guess what? This week we've got a special guest! Read on ...
Bacon: The PGA Championship is this week, and I think most would agree that this is the least exciting major of the season. It doesn't have the sanctity of the Masters, the grind of the U.S. Open or the history of the British, but it does have one thing that most don't; a history of drama, and a lot of that drama was from one-hit wonders. Names like Rich Beem (pictured), Bob May, Shaun Micheel, Chad Campbell and Y.E. Yang come to mind. So what is it about this major that brings out the randoms?
Busbee: They call it "glory's last shot," which is a bit of a desperate-sounding slogan if you ask me, but it fits. For a fair percentage of the field, this is one of only a handful of chances, perhaps the only chance, that they have to achieve golf immortality. And some can rise to the occasion for just this once, can have everything go exactly their way for four days in a row. In a game where mental stability plays such an important role, some guys are able to hold it together for four days ... and no more.
Bacon: But do think the success of some of the lesser known players is a result of the PGA Championship not being as big a deal? Obviously it's a major, and if you win it you're inked in the history books forever, but it seems most players (not counting Nick Watney last season) fail to fall apart like they do at Augusta National or Pebble Beach. Is a lack of a HUGE golf history the problem or is it just luck of the draw, and some guys have been able to play well for four days THIS week?
Busbee: I don't know that I agree with the "not as big a deal" theory, simply because a major is a major is a major. Maybe it's the reverse, that the big-name players don't get as geared up about this one as they do the other three. Each of those has significance and reach far beyond the golf world, but the PGA Championship is like the bass player in the band: an essential element of the foursome, but generally not the focus of attention. Shaun Micheel, meet Michael Anthony.
Bacon: You're probably right. It's the last major of the season, they're probably tired from all the travel and grind of the year, and when they get here, maybe they do try to approach it like Lee Westwood says he does. I also think that can be a negative to some of the bigger players that do have to travel around so much and go to so many big events around the world. Maybe when they get to the PGA Championship, they're a little beat up and not as focused as some of the lesser names just excited to get another major under their belt.
Busbee: But hey, we just watch this. Why not bring in someone who actually plays in these things? We posed our Teeing Off question to Tour pro Charles Howell III, and here's his response:
Howell: The PGA is the most fair test of golf, in that it doesn't favor one style of player. The Masters, you have to have local knowledge. Learning that course takes time. The British Open obviously favors links golf. Certain players handle the U.S. Open better than others. But the PGA is the most like a "normal" tournament, and I think that's what gives so many more players the best chance to win.
Busbee: Works for me.
All right, your take. Why do you think the lesser-known players tend to win at the PGA Championship?
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