The fourth and final of golf’s major tournaments is coming up this weekend from Whistling Straits golf course in everyone’s favorite vacation spot, Kohler Wisconsin. The action starts Thursday, and while this is admittedly 4/4 on the rank of golf’s coolest majors, here are four interesting storylines to bring up around this weekend’s action.
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1) A golf course arises out of the ashes, er, sand?
Kohler, Wisconsin is indeed named after that Kohler (plumbing conglomerate), and it’s a mostly-flat city on the banks of Lake Michigan. So when Herb Kohler decided he wanted to spend some of his $5.6b net worth on a jewel of a golf course in 1998, he worked with renown architect Pete Dye and hauled in an estimated 13,000 truckloads (!) of sand to reformat the former military base and build the many topographical elements of the 36-hole ‘Irish’ and ‘Straits’ courses, which are anything but straight. (Source: PGA.com)
Just 5 weeks ago, Rory McIlroy spoiled a British Open showdown with Jordan Spieth by tearing ligaments in his ankle while playing soccer (how selfish, Rory). And now, all signs point to him being back and ready to tee it up on Thursday
The cherry on top for golf fans? He’s paired with Spieth for the tournament’s first two days. Here we go!
3) Can anybody beat Spieth?
Golden-boy phenom Jordan Spieth won this year’s Masters and U.S. Open before narrowly falling at the British Open, but he’s the odds-on favorite to win this weekend. Get to know Spieth if you don’t already, because a) he’s the man and b) he just may re-write the golf record books. At just 21 years of age, we have a lot of Spieth to look forward to for along time…
The top-10 Vegas favorites for this weekend
(30-to-1 means bet $1, profit $30 if the golfer wins the tournament. Via Sportsbook.ag on 8/8)
1. Jordan Spieth, 6-to-1
2. Rory McIlroy, 10-to-1
3. Dustin Johnston, 13-to-1
4a. Adam Scott, 15-to-1
4b. Jason Day, 15-to-1
4c. Justin Rose, 15-to-1
7a. Bubba Watson, 22-to-1
7b. Rickie Fowler, 22-to-1
9a. Tiger Woods, 30-to-1
9b. Phil Mickelson, 30-to-1
9c. Henrik Stenson, 30-to-1
Dustin Johnson entered the final hole of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits with a one stroke lead, before sailing his drive right into the spectators and hitting the second shot you see in the picture above. Johnson went on to bogey the hole and tie for first, so time for a playoff, right?
Not so fast, my friend! It turns out Johnson’s ball was in one of the 1,200 sand traps on the course (remember all those truckloads?) and not a worn-down patch of turf as he thought – so when he took a practice swing and touched the ground with his club before hitting, he was in fact committing a two-stroke penalty (it’s illegal to ‘ground your club’ in a bunker before hitting). Officials informed poor Dusty of his violation after he finished the last hole, and he was forced to watch the playoff along with the rest of us.
Fast forward to 2015 – the infamous ‘bunker’ is now gone, partially covered by a sponsor tent. Dustin is back and looking to vanquish some demons (it’s been a rough go for him lately between a U.S. Open three-putt on the 18th to lose to Spieth by one stroke, and leading the British Open after the first two days only to fall apart). Here’s to hoping he wins on Sunday and celebrates by making a sand angel.