Youth was served at the fourth and final major as a stable of talented young guns attacked the course and draped themselves with glory. We'll start our weekly audit with the kids; anything to steer away from the horrendous ruling that hosed Dustin Johnson after his 72nd hole on Sunday.
To the clipboard:
Martin Kaymer: There was nothing surprising about this victory; Kaymer has finished T8 or better in four of the last five majors, and his bulletproof demeanor serves him well in pressure situations. He's also got a knack for finding a way to score even when he's not striking the ball at his absolute best; despite an odd collection of stats (91st in GIR, 116th in putting average, 195th in total driving), he somehow ranks 24th in scoring average. Kaymer will not be a one-and-done major winner; he's a world-class talent, and he's still just 25.
Rory McIlroy: A second straight T3 in a major, and just for grins he finished T9 in the WGC-Bridgestone in the middle of those two events. McIlroy is basically Sergio Garcia, 10 years removed, with two major differences - McIlroy might have a spec more natural ability than Sergio had back then, and McIlroy definitely has a calmer presence about him. He's going to be a star any minute now.
Bubba Watson: He's still on the young side (32), he's powerful, he's fearless, he's left-handed. Sure, his go-for-broke style of play will lead to a few bombastic trunk slams, but Watson has given us more than enough hits this season (the playoff loss at the PGA; the win at The Travelers; two other finishes in the Top 3). Whenever someone tries to throw the "golf is boring" blanket over the entire tour, show them a video of this guy.
Steve Elkington: The late events of Sunday might wipe out the memory of what Elkington did, and that's a shame. If he strikes two balls differently on the back nine, he's probably the older major champion in history today.
Whistling Straits: There was a lot of grousing the last time the PGA came here, and obviously this year's championship ended with controversy, but let's not blame the course itself. We saw a fair balance of great shots, red numbers and back-ups on Sunday, and an exciting conclusion at the end, with multiple players given a chance to win. Isn't that what you want at one of these things?
The Waste Bunker Ruling: There's not much new to be said on this - it was a horrendous pre-tourney decision, and it's absurd that it cost Dustin Johnson a chance at the playoff. The only favorable thing that came out of this mess is Johnson's class - he handled the bogus two-shot penalty like a true champion. It's just a matter of time before he puts something gigantic on the mantle.
Nick Watney: It's one thing to stumble with a final-round lead at a major - sleeping on a 54-hole lead is one of the most treacherous things in sports - but it's disconcerting how Watney gave his advantage away. His body language was terrible from the start, his confidence evaporated almost immediately, and it was clear he didn't have a clue how to rebound from that double-bogey on the first hole. It's the cruel lesson and fate to accept, and Watney is too talented not to bounce back and return to this sort of contention, but he can't be happy to note that the next major is eight months away. Don't be surprised if there's an emotional carryover for Watney during the FedExCup Playoffs.
Jim Gray: Maybe there are people who like him, maybe there are people who respect him, and maybe there are people who think he is 100 percent credible. I just don't know any of them.
Phil Mickelson: It's absurd that the No. 1 ranking has been has been in his grasp for so many weeks now, but Lefty just can't string together four days of solid golf to take it. Mickelson's 67 on Sunday was a treat - the best round of the day, in fact - but he was so far out of the running, it didn't even catapult him into the Top 10. Maybe Mickelson just isn't cut out to be the top dog?
Tiger Woods: He's done nothing this year to show that he deserves a spot on the Ryder Cup team, absolutely nothing. And Tiger's never been Mr. "Rah-Rah-USA" to begin with. Team captain Corey Pavin has been put in a difficult spot, sure, but I'll respect Pavin most if he does the right thing - leave Tiger off the roster. When a golfer is this mediocre for this long of a period, he doesn't deserve the honor. (That all said, I'd bet everything I own that Pavin will put Woods on the team, but that's beside the point. I'm rooting against it.)