PITTSFORD, N.Y. Upon entering the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, spectators pass through a small village of temporary structures, including the massive merchandise tent where it’s possible to buy everything from sweatshirts to coffee mugs, all imprinted with a 2013 logo that’s a bit too big for whatever it’s on.
The wide walkways are carpeted and, before actually watching golf, you can stop by for a ‘Taste of New York’ or do some Christmas shopping for the golf-inclined in your family.
In the middle of what feels like Main Street are a series of tall, slender photographic monuments to future PGA Championship sites. Vahalla next year. Whistling Straits in 2015. Baltusrol the year after. And Quail Hollow in 2017.
Four years from now, this circus will roll into south Charlotte where preparations are already under way.
Phil Mickelson will be 47 when the PGA comes to Quail Hollow and Tiger Woods will be 41 but it’s coming.
Perhaps Quail Hollow is where Tiger will finally catch or pass Jack Nicklaus on the all-time major championship chart. That’s 16 majors away and he needs four to tie, five to pass the Golden Bear, but the possibility exists. Of course, Tiger still needs to win No. 15 first and that has proven to be problematic.
Is the PGA Championship that different from the Wells Fargo Championship?
Yes and no.
It’s bigger in every way. More fans. More infrastructure. More media. More television coverage. More visitors.
According to PGA of America officials, the PGA Championship will be seen by approximately 500 million viewers in 200 countries this week, give or take a few million. It’s a worldwide event.
But the Wells Fargo Championship is a cut above most other PGA Tour events and it has cultivated a big-time feel. It has a style all its own, an elegance that’s uncommon at tournaments played outside Augusta, Ga., and it will only get better as the tournament moves forward. That’s how the tournament operates, turning good into better, better into best.
The PGA Championship is different from the other major championships. The Masters has its own unique appeal with its beauty and history. The U.S. Open is the national championship with a set-up as subtle as a barbell. The Open Championship is linksy and old world and enthralling.
That leaves the PGA Championship batting clean-up in August, when it’s generally sticky hot. That’s okay. We play golf when it’s sticky and hot.
The PGA Championship goes a long way in defining careers. It provided Jack Nicklaus with five of his 18 professional major championship victories. Walter Hagen won it five times. John Daly arrived at the PGA Championship.
Like golf itself, just when you think you have it figured out, a week like this one happens. Oak Hill was supposed to be tougher than a nor’easter but instead it has been defanged by enough rain to make the greens soft as Jason Dufner’s midsection.
Oak Hill was proud of the fact that in five previous major championships, only 10 players had finished under par. This week, it turned into a shooting gallery. On Friday, Webb Simpson became only the third player to shoot 64 at Oak Hill, adding his name alongside Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange.
Simpson’s distinction lasted about five hours before Dufner shot 63, equaling the lowest score in major championship history.
This was also going to be the weekend when Tiger Woods won his 15th major championship on his way to tracking down the Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. Tiger got to 18 this weekend – his 18th straight major championship start without a victory, easily the longest drought of his career and throwing into further question whether he’ll ever catch Nicklaus.
Between them, Woods and Phil Mickelson are a combined 34 strokes behind leader Jim Furyk with 18 holes remaining. So much for the great showdown.
That’s major championship golf, unpredictable and unforgettable.
And coming to Quail Hollow in four years.
Ron Green Jr. is senior writer for Global Golf Post.com (www.globalgolfpost.com) and a contributor to the Charlotte Observer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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