LOUISVILLE, Ky. — First the rain came, flooding an already soft and vulnerable Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday afternoon until the greens were ponds and the fairways were streaked by flowing rivulets.
The leader board heading into the final round was stocked with golf’s elite, and the combination of talent and a vulnerable, receptive course foreshadowed a showdown of aggressive, attacking shot-making.
The previous three major championships this year had been notable for their lack of drama as the eventual winners took comfortable leads into the final hours and cruised to weighty if wearisome victories.
By contrast, the final round of the P.G.A. Championship was a taut battle more like a heavyweight prizefight. Four men climbed into the ring and exchanged birdies at a sizzling pace in close quarters.
Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson took turns holding at least a piece of the tournament lead across four hours of major championship anxiety. Racing to be done before sunset because the rain had delayed the tournament by nearly two hours, they briskly charged and parried until McIlroy found the resolve to make a pivotal birdie at the 17th hole and held on with a par on the 18th to claim a one-shot victory over Mickelson.
The guy looks more like Tiger than Tiger does these days. Tiger had won six by the same age, and Nicklaus 4, but the kid looks pretty strong. Now if he can just keep out of violent scandals with the women….