Whistling Straits gives golfers, fans reasons to smile at PGA Championship

Whistling Straits gives golfers, fans reasons to smile at PGA Championship
Jordan Spieth hits a shot out of a greenside bunker at No. 16 during the final round of the PGA Championship. Spieth finished second at 17 under and overtook Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 ranking. (Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)

Talk of bumpy greens and horrendous weather dominated the U.S. Open and British Open.

At the PGA Championship, all that angst was replaced by smiles — from both the players and spectators.


If people look at Jason Day's winning score of 20 under and think that Whistling Straits is too easy, they should come out and play it. It's a public course that will beat the snot out of you on a windy day.

The score reflects the excellence of the tour pros, the smoothness of the greens and the long stretches of light breezes off Lake Michigan.

From his perch by the first tee, course developer and owner Herb Kohler sounded a tad bothered by the potential (and eventual reality) of 20 under winning the tournament. He shouldn't have been.

"With the water we've gotten," he said of the rain, "the fairways are soft. It could have played more firm and been a little more like a links course, but we'll take what we got."

Next up for Whistling Straits is the 2020 Ryder Cup, and perhaps another PGA Championship by 2025.

"Look at the people out here this week," said Steve Stricker, the Madison-area native and resident who drew some of the loudest cheers of the week. "The amount of support they give to this tournament is unbelievable. The PGA has to love it. They can fit a ton of people here. And the [players] seem to like the course. It's a tough challenge, pretty penal at times, but if you play well you can score well."

Rory McIlroy called it "a fantastic venue for a major championship," and Phil Mickelson said: "It is going to be a great Ryder Cup site."

Simply the best

Jordan Spieth called his second-place finish "by far the best loss" of his career, and it's easy to see why.

His 17-under performance put him at 54 under for this year's four majors, breaking the record of 53 under set by Tiger Woods in 2000. Spieth, 22, also overtook McIlroy as the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings.

"To be No. 1 in the world as a team is fantastic," Spieth said. "Certainly it was a lifelong goal of mine."

He's not the only one.

"His goal is to be the No. 1 player in the world," caddie Colin Swatton said of PGA champion Day, who moved up to No. 3. "We haven't quite gotten there yet, but we'll keep plugging away."



Dustin Johnson's Sunday card featured two eagles, six birdies, three bogeys and a quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole. Johnson overshot the green and then said he "made a mess of it" from there, going from bunker to rough to bunker.

"But what a comeback," he said.

Indeed, Johnson showed his remarkable capabilities by making eagle on the two back-nine par-five holes, which measured 573 and 563 yards. He made a 50-foot putt on No. 11 and a 39-footer on No. 16 after massive drives and approach shots.

"I've got a lot of confidence," said Johnson, who finished tied for seventh at 12 under.