bogeys and a double bogey punctuating a scorecard that otherwise represented a model of consistency with 15 pars.
But Singh earned a reprieve and an invitation to the three-hole aggregate playoff when Leonard bogeyed the 72nd hole, DiMarco failed on a final-hole birdie opportunity, and Ernie Els and Chris Riley both three-putted the 18th green for bogeys. Els and Riley finished one shot out of the playoff, while Singh, Leonard and DiMarco each had three holes to prove their major-championship mettle.
“I looked at the playoff as an
opportunity,” said Singh. “I hadn’t made a
putt or a birdie all day, so I knew one had to
go in pretty soon. When you look at the
score, it looked ugly. I shot 4-over ( 76), but
it was a good 4-over for me. I hung in there
and tried not to get too frustrated. I played
nicely; I just didn’t make any putts. I was
very happy to be involved in a playoff. It
gave me a chance to prove myself.”
While Leonard and DiMarco
approached the three-hole playoff
emotionally deflated, Singh promised
longtime caddie, Dave Renwick, that he
would be more aggressive in the playoff –
and that he would make some putts. Singh
didn’t wait long to deliver on his vow.
Only Birdie of the Day
With the playoff beginning at the uphill, par- 4 10th hole, Singh unleashed a guided-missile driver 325 yards up the fair way, at least 50 yards beyond the tee balls of both DiMarco and Leonard. He had just 36 yards to the hole, and pitched to within six feet. But now came the moment of truth. Could Singh make a putt? Could the third-round leader record his first birdie in 21 holes?
Clearing his mind of all negative
thoughts and an “embarrassing” 34-putt
performance during his regulation 18 holes,
Singh knocked his birdie putt into the
heart of the hole and exhaled with relief.
“I was really glad to see one finally go in,”
mused Singh. “You never know if one
birdie will be enough in a three-hole
playoff. But since we were going to play 17
and 18 after the 10th hole in the playoff, I
thought No. 10 was my best chance to
make a birdie.”
Singh’s first birdie of the day staked him
to a one-shot lead in the playoff, when
Leonard two-putted from 20 feet for par
and DiMarco missed the green left but got
it up and down to save par at the 10th hole.
And the 1998 PGA Champion had more magic waiting on his next swing.
The second playoff hole was the devilish par- 3 17th, a 236-yard monster with a carrot-shaped green that drops off severely on the left into bunkers, weeds and eventually Lake Michigan. Playing into the wind, Singh unleashed a splendid 3-iron that caught a large undulation in the green and came to rest six feet from the hole. While Leonard and DiMarco again struggled to record pars, Singh lined up his second successive birdie putt, a relatively simple putt that would ice his second PGA Championship triumph.
Inexplicably, Singh missed. Or, perhaps predictably Singh missed, considering he hadn’t made a birdie all day until the first playoff hole.
So for Singh, it came down to the 500- yard, par- 4, 18th hole, the one with a green the size of Rhode Island and the pin tucked on a small left-front peninsula that made birdie something of a mission impossible. Singh was 99. 9 percent sure that a par at the 75th hole would reward him with his second PGA Championship triumph in six years. Needless to say, he didn’t want to leave it up to his putter.
To make certain he hit the fair way on the unforgiving 18th hole, Singh hit 3-wood off the tee. Then he struck a perfectly controlled 5-wood onto the green about 45 feet from the flag. Meanwhile, after booming drives, neither Leonard nor DiMarco found the putting surface. Leonard’s second shot came up short in the fringe and DiMarco pulled his approach into a left bunker. When Singh lagged his lengthy putt to within two feet of the cup, the 86th PGA Championship was his.
“Some people might say it
looked a little ugly out there
today, but I think it’s the
prettiest one yet,” said Singh.
“That is the best I have played in
a playoff in my life.”
Singh’s victory in the 2004
PGA Championship at Whistling Straits may not have been pretty at the time, but as time passes, it will endure as a major masterpiece. Just like Gene Sarazen’s Wisconsin victory in
1933, when The Squire used only seven clubs. ■
After not recording a single birdie during the regulation 18 holes of the final round, Singh made a birdie 3 on the first playoff hole en route to his second PGA Championship in six years.
THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM OF THE 2010 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP 135