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PGA dazzled at Straits

August 21, 2010
By Dennis Grall

ESCANABA - A controversial finish put a damper on the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits Sunday, but it did not obscure what happened at a tremendous tournament on a superlative venue.

Dustin Johnson paid a huge price for a dumb mistake, missing out on a playoff when he grounded his club in a bunker on the 18th hole. He handled the disqualification with dignity, akin to the way Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga acted when he was robbed of a perfect game by umpire Jim Joyce's admitted wrong call on what should have been the final out.

PGA officials should have handled the crowd better, not allowing them to virtually envelope Johnson as he stood over his second shot on No. 18. That may have given him a better idea he was in a bunker, which meant he could not ground his club.

Article Photos

Dennis Grall, sports editor

But he admitted to not reading the rule posted all week in the clubhouse, and never asked an accompanying rule's official for a decision before the ill-fated shot. It's hard to feel sorry for him in light of those oversights.

I was right on top of Tiger Woods, along with several hundred people, when he blasted out of a bunker on No. 2 earlier Sunday. I thought we were too close, but officials on hand were only concerned with clearing the crowd out of the possible ball flight path on Tiger's left side.

Other than that, tourney officials did an excellent job. Getting in and out of parking areas was a breeze, getting around the course was easy, although many, including my wife, found hiking the mounds was a difficult task. Fans were close enough to hear the ball whiz past their heads and to see the shaft bend on drives, provided they got to a good vantage point ahead of the masses.

You had to be at least a hole ahead of Woods or Phil Mickelson, the main crowd favorites, for that prime spot, however.

Numerous area residents attended during the week and everyone I talked with was also impressed with the course. Several even said they want to play the Straits.

I did that in 2002 with Jon Lancour and Eric Knudson of Escanaba, and it was a treat. Now, after hosting two PGA events and seeing it displayed so magnificently on television and hearing all the raves from players and TV commentators, it was indeed a privilege to play such a stunning course.

That is one of the neat appeals of golf. We can play the same venues as the pros, unlike those we would all love to play, such as Lambeau Field or Wrigley Field.



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