Golf: Brooks finds a little extra

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Mark Brooks won his first major championship at the age of 35, the 78th US PGA Championship at Valhalla yesterday but he could not have done it without some help from the local hero Kenny Perry whom he defeated in a bloodless sudden death play-off.

The 18th at Valhalla is a par five and what Perry needed in the final round was a five. He took six. He drove into the bluegrass rough to the right and hit his second into the rough on the left. His third missed the green left and his chip rolled about nine feet past the flag. He missed the putt but a 68 put him at 11 under for the tournament and he had an agonising wait to see if anybody could catch him.

Only three players had a realistic chance: Vijay Singh, Steve Elkington and Brooks. Singh blew it by driving into a bunker. He thinned his third into the rough at the back of the green and took six; Elkington hit his second into a bunker and failed to get up and down and all the while Perry was sitting in a television studio, commentating on his rivals. Brooks also found a bunker with his approach but played a great shot to within four feet of the hole and he made the putt for a birdie four and his round of 70 enabled him to match Perry's aggregate of 277.

The first hole of sudden death would probably not have been Perry's choice: the 18th. He made a mess of it again, putting his drive into the rough on the left and he kept going from bluegrass to bluegrass. By the time he had reached the green he had played five shots and was not required to putt as Brooks, for the second time in a matter of minutes, got a birdie four at the last.

By the time of the play-off Nick Faldo had long gone, heading for Colorado. After seeing another US PGA Championship get away, Faldo flew to Denver where today he will stand in a river, attempt to attract trout and contemplate why his dream of completing a grand slam, or even half a slam, has evaporated.

Yesterday he shot 73 and at three over par for the championship he was swimming with the minnows rather than the sharks. "The annoying thing about this week is that I was never really in there," Faldo said. "I never played well enough from tee to green and I didn't putt well enough. After four holes on the second day I was 10 shots back. My swing is a smidgen out and I've got a lot of work to do on everything."

As an IMG client and the reigning Masters champion, Faldo was expected to play in the World Match Play Championship, which is run by IMG, at Wentworth in October but instead he is playing in the Bridgestone Open in Japan. He will make only one appearance on the European Tour, in the Lancome Trophy near Versailles. That is also an IMG tournament.

"When you're expected to win it becomes a different ball game," Faldo said. "I'll never forget the expression on Damon Hill's face when he was told to forget about finishing second and to go out and win." Faldo has no regrets about joining the US Tour, a move made to enable him to have a better run at the major championships in America.Yesterday Faldo, who plays in the International tournament in Denver this week, could make no headway, scoring four birdies, five bogeys.

His prediction was that nine under par would win the championship but over the front nine Tom Watson confounded Faldo's theory. The 46-year- old Watson, who began the final round at three under par, eight strokes behind the leader Russ Cochran, went to the turn in 31. However, Watson could not maintain his charge and closed with a 69.

Cochran, after his record breaking round of 65 on Saturday, began the day two strokes in front of Singh and Brooks and three in front of the defending champion Elkington, the former champion Nick Price and the left hander Phil Mickelson. Cochran is also left handed (they are the only two southpaws on the US Tour) but the most unusual thing about him is that he has won only once on the US Tour in 14 years. Yesterday he disappeared from the leaderboard with a 77.

The native of Paducah, Kentucky was overtaken by the pack as the crowd switched its support to another Kentuckian, Perry, who began the day at seven under, and got to 12 under to take the lead from Elkington, Singh and Brooks.

Brooks, joint third in the Open Championship last year and joint fifth at Lytham last month, went to the turn in 33 but had bogeys at the 11th,12th and 14th. Ultimately, though, the bluegrass state treated the Texan Brooks more kindly than the native Perry.

Final scores from Valhalla

(US unless stated)

277 K Perry 66 72 71 68; M Brooks 68 70 69 70 (Brooks won at first extra hole). 278 S Elkington (Aus) 67 74 67 70; T Tolles 69 71 71 67. 279 J Leonard 71 66 72 70; J Parnevik (Swe) 73 67 69 70; V Singh (Fiji) 69 69 69 72. 280 N Price (Zim) 68 71 69 72; F Nobilo (NZ) 69 72 71 68; P-U Johansson (Swe) 73 72 66 69; L Mize 71 70 69 70; L Janzen 68 71 71 70; P Mickelson 67 67 74 72. 281 J Sindelar 73 72 69 67; T Lehman 71 71 69 70; M Brisky 71 69 69 72. 282 T Watson 69 71 73 69; B Faxon 72 68 73 69; J Furyk 70 70 73 69; D Edwards 69 71 72 70; G Norman (Aus) 68 72 69 73; R Cochran 68 72 65 77. 283 E Aubrey 69 74 72 68; M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 71 71 70. 284 S Stricker 73 72 72 67; F Funk 73 69 73 69; M O'Meara 71 70 74 69; C Pavin 71 74 70 69; C Strange 73 70 68 73. 285 P Azinger 70 75 71 69; P Burke 71 72 69 73; T Herron 71 73 68 73; J Haas 72 71 69 73. 286 I Woosnam (GB) 68 72 75 71; F Zoeller 76 67 72 71; M Calcavecchia 70 74 70 72; D Ogrin 75 70 68 73; R Mediate 71 72 67 76. 287 F Couples 68 74 71 74; D Duval 74 69 73 71; G Morgan 72 72 72 71; J Sluman 72 72 72 71; G Day 72 73 70 72. 288 J Cook 69 75 74 70; P Stankowski 70 75 71 72; P Blackmar 71 74 71 72; S McCarron 69 72 74 73; B Watts 70 71 71 76. 289 B Boyd 71 71 75 72; C Rocca (Italy) 72 72 73 72; J Gallagher Jnr 73 70 74 72; L Rinker 72 73 71 73; A Cejka (Ger) 71 74 72 72; J Adams 72 71 75 71; N Lancaster 71 72 73 73; T Nakajima (Jap) 73 72 69 75. 290 E Els (SA) 74 68 79 69; M Wiebe 73 72 75 70; S Hoch 72 72 74 72; D Forsman 76 69 71 74. 291 W Grady (Aus) 74 67 78 72; C Parry (Aus) 72 73 75 71; N Faldo (GB) 69 75 74 73; W Wood 70 75 71 75. 292 W Austin 70 74 75 73; B Crenshaw 74 71 73 74; N Henke 72 70 75 75; P Stewart 73 70 73 76. 293 P Goydos 71 73 77 72; J Maggert 73 70 76 74. 294 M Dawson 76 69 75 74. 295 B Langer (Ger) 73 72 78 72. 296 J Edwards 68 76 75 77. 297 S Highashi (Japan) 72 72 80 73; S Ingraham 73 72 75 77. 298 J Reeves 74 71 69 74; H Clark (GB) 73 72 75 78.

Comments