SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – The 98th PGA Championship is in the books. Now it’s time for the season’s final major.
Sorry, you thought the last meaningful championship of 2016 just wrapped? I respectfully beg your pardon. While Baltusrol was a career-making moment for Jimmy Walker and Sunday’s last two holes were a blast, for the better part of four days, it hardly carried the gravitas a true golf major. Blame the weather, which rinsed Saturday’s third round and created a disjointed finish. Or blame the golf course, which, while old and grand, doesn’t offer much in the way of memorability. Or, blame the ghost of Baltus Roll. Actually, just blame the weather.
And so we are left with one final major this summer: the Olympics. That’s right, the much-maligned Rio Games are suddenly major again. Here are six reasons to be excited for it.
1. Team USA is going to be a blast. Yes, Jordan Spieth is out, but Bubba is all in. So are Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed. On the women’s side, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Gerina Piller are threats to medal. And, as a reminder, in Reed’s brief history in national team competitions, he has proven himself to be… memorable.
2. Henrik Stenson. Actually, let’s just call him Henrik, as his recent play has elevated him to single-name status, to say nothing of golf’s big 4 or 5 or 10 or whatever the magic number is these days. With a T7 finish at Baltusrol, the 40-year-old Swede has usurped Dustin Johnson as the summer’s hottest player. In Rio he’ll have a chance to pull a historic British Open-Olympic Gold double and stake a claim for Player of the Year.
3. The Olympic golf course. Architect Gil Hanse spent four years carving it out of a patch of sand along a nature preserve, and it’s gorgeous. Like most things about this Olympics, the course is not without controversy (more on that shortly) but it’s an open, links-style track that could fit well in Australia’s sand belt, and it will play spectacularly on hi-def TV.
4. Uniforms! Check out the threads for Team USA. Note: I would never wear them, but that’s not the point.
5. Brazilians care about golf. Not all Brazilians, but more than you might think. If you missed it last May, here’s our debut edition of GOLF Films, which takes you on a tour of golf and life in this complicated city, and explores the controversy around the Olympic course. Not shown: our three-man crew ate about 14 pounds of steak while working on-site over the five-day shoot.
6. You’re not going (unless you are), which means you can watch it all from the comfort of your living room without worrying about health, crime or impossibly long shuttle rides.
The Olympics are almost here. It’s major. Let’s embrace it.