KIAWAH ISLAND — With my buddy Carl Spackler of Caddyshack fame on the bag, time to walk through 18 holes of evaluation as the 94th PGA Championship circus tents come down at the Ocean Course.
Scoring the first major for a state that issues “First in Golf” license plates:
1. Drama. Sizzling for three days but everyone remembers the back nine on Sunday. Roar for Rory, snore for TV viewers.
“He’s got all the talent in the world to do what he’s doing and this is the way that Rory can play,” Tiger Woods said of masterful Mr. McIlroy and his eight-shot victory. “When he gets it going, it’s pretty impressive.”
Too impressive. Bogey.
2. Traffic. There is only so much you can do with a sea island, resort mentality and environmental issues; bravo for saving the oak trees of Johns Island over a few hours of PGA Week commuter convenience. But former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford and other dignitaries at the official PGA announcement in 2005 were convinced road widening was on the way.
Aside from clogs, there is no room for accidents or emergency vehicles. Why no bus staging areas at the North Charleston Coliseum, or near Johnson Hagood Stadium, or a third-lane shuttle option on Kiawah? Triple-bogey.
3. Tiger factor. Fun while it lasted, but Woods never got going Sunday. Birdie.
4. Ocean Course appeal. It looked magnificent from the MetLife blimp, more breathtaking than any patch of American golf, with one exception. And we’re used to Pebble Beach, its scenes dating to fun with Bing Crosby. Want to play? After a sponsor event Tuesday, the Ocean Course is open for business Wednesday ($261, not including caddy). Business will boom.
“We hope so,” Kiawah Island Golf Resort Public Relations Director Mike Vegis said. “The course will have different tees after the PGA; it won’t be as hard. It’s a tremendous experience, a Zen course experience.” Eagle.
5. Winner. McIlroy isn’t merely a rising international mega-star. At 23, he has arrived. The 2011 U.S. Open champ breaks the streak of 16 different winners over the last 16 majors. Birdie.
Wild Kiawah kingdom
6. Power couple. Caroline Wozniacki won the 2011 Family Circle Cup over on Daniel Island and now her boyfriend is king of Kiawah as PGA champion. Birdie.
7. Leaderboard. It had variety, the spice of any great tournament. Birdie.
8. Animal act. Jim Nantz said an alligator ate two CBS microphones during the tournament. Hmmm … Maybe. Might have been raccoons, bobcats or possums, all spotted this week. Or Johnny Miller. Birdie.
9. Plant life. A cactus bit Woods early Sunday on the 15th hole of the third round. He limped for a while. “It got me in both legs, left shoe and right shoe,” he said. “It itched like hell for about a hole.” Par.
10. Weather. Howling wind Friday, round-stopping rain Saturday and, of course, the heat. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore should have arrived. Double-bogey (two-stroke penalty for suspended play Saturday).
11. Signature crazy shot. Hard to top McIlroy saving par Saturday after a drive that landed high inside a dead tree. Rory’s Tree, very plaque-worthy.
“I’m like, how can it be stuck in this thing,” a miffed McIlroy said. “There’s no branches, no leaves for it to be stuck in.” Birdie.
12. Controversy. Carl Pettersson fell victim to the dreaded “loose impediment” police when a small, crusty leaf fluttered away during a backswing on the first hole of the final round. A two-stroke penalty was the difference between a tie for third and sole possession of second place. Par.
13. Old guy intrigue. The pharmaceutical commercials indicate golf fans probably liked having Vijay Singh, 49, in contention. Birdie.
14. Everyman appeal. Well, there was Matt Every — man from Jacksonville Beach who made the cut. Plus, John Daly (clown pants) and Carl Pettersson (beer and ice cream diet). Par.
15. Course degree of difficulty for players. “It’s a great golf course and I think everybody loves it,” Daly said of the challenging Pete Dye design. “It’s just tough.” Birdie.
16. Course degree of difficulty for spectators. It’s hard to walk because the two nines are separated with few chances to cut between holes. But ocean views are part of those walks. Birdie.
17. Fan friendliness. Ticket pricing options ranged from basic to Wanamaker Club to corporate suites. Lime shrimp tacos were for sale. Lots of beer carts. Birdie.
18. Palmetto pros. It would have been nice for a player with South Carolina ties to contend Sunday. Alas, six of the eight didn’t make the cut. Dustin Johnson and Bill Haas were the exceptions. Double-bogey.
That’s 4 under for our PGA Championship week, a noble score inside any caddyshack.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff
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