Rovell: Lacking Stars & Drama, PGA Championship Final Round Another Golf Major Letdown in 2022
Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas
Golf majors are supposed to be a time when the casual fans — those who aren’t watching every week — make plans to sit on the couch Sunday and see who ascends to glory.
But, for the second straight major, there’s little to watch.
At the Masters, Scottie Scheffler came into the final round with a three-stroke lead and prevailed by three, a score that sells short his dominance that weekend.
And on Sunday, Mito Pereira entered the PGA Championship’s final round with a three-stroke lead — and not a marketable name in striking distance.
Tiger isn’t ready and Phil didn’t show up.
Apologies to Will Zalatoris (who is popular among avid golf bettors at least), Matthew Fitzpatrick and Cameron Young, but no one is canceling plans to see them yet. From the top-four players entering play Sunday: Zero wins on the PGA TOUR.
Bubba Watson hasn’t won since 2018 and his memorable Masters win was eight years ago. Justin Thomas is seven shots back hoping someone else falls to him. Rory? Ejected himself far enough out of contention on Saturday that his Sunday charge is likely too late. Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka never sniffed the top of the board. Scheffler and Dustin Johnson caught flights home on Friday.
Not even bettors were interested in the final pairing. Fitzpatrick (40-1) took fewer bets than Bryson DeChambeau, who no one expected to play as he recovers from injury. Names like Sepp Straka and Beau Hossler took more action at BetMGM than Pereira (200-1).
The truth is, we’ve been spoiled in golf when it comes to the majors.
We’ve had the Koepka run with Spieth, JT and DJ consistently contending or winning. That has been sprinkled with other great stories, like Sergio Garcia finally winning one.
There has been the young guns who won were known commodities going in. Rahm and Collin Morikawa won three of the last eight majors.
But looking through the past decades of majors, you’d have to go back 41 years to find two majors as uninteresting as the first two of 2022 where there was either a large Sunday lead or a leaderboard lacking star power.
At the 1981 U.S. Open, David Graham, Bill Rogers and George Burns battled it out with Jack Nicklaus and Chi Chi Rodriguez the nearest names to the top, but never in contention.
Then at the Open Championship, Rogers held a 5-shot lead entering the final round before winning by four strokes.
At the 1981 PGA Championship, Larry Nelson came into the final round with a four-stroke lead and won by four.
There’s nothing golf can do about it, just like there’s nothing any sport can do about how things shake out. The longshots like Pereira make for a great story, but television execs would’ve preferred he broke through at the Sanderson Farms Championship, not the PGA Championship.
The disappointment in how Sunday is likely to shake out is compounded by the fact that it hasn’t been a good couple months for the casual sports viewer.
NBA playoff games have most recently been blowouts. The Kentucky Derby winning horse didn’t enter in the Preakness, and the one that won in the Preakness no one knew because he didn’t run in the Derby.
And now this: A Sunday where most have no impetus to even turn the TV on.
The only people who are loving what is happening in Tulsa this Sunday are the sportsbooks, as 90 percent of the money has already been collected by the popular players who have no chance to win.