Frank Nobilo: ‘Rory Denied Opportunity To Walk Up 18’

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Rory McIlroy (Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy (Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

It’s being revered as one of the greatest major championships of all time. Unfortunately, the ending didn’t do it justice.

Yes, A strange scene unfolded at Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday, as the final hole of The PGA Championship was played in near darkness and with unusual protocol. In short, Rory McIlroy was allowed to begin the final hole before Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler had finished it, which may have affected the outcome – especially given that McIlroy beat Mickelson and Fowler by just one and two strokes, respectively.

“The hardest thing about that was Rory was denied the opportunity to walk up 18,” Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo said on The John Feinstein Show. “He should have deservedly (experienced) the applause of the crowd. It just marred what I thought was one of the greatest major championships I’ve ever seen, especially since I’ve actually been doing TV. It would have been up there nearly with the ’75 Masters, which is still my favorite where you just saw people playing close to their best-ever golf going down the stretch. That’s something we always hope for but hardly ever (get).”

Yes, we did. McIlroy, Mickelson and Fowler – not to mention Jim Furyk and Ernie Els – were all in contention Sunday. Ultimately, though, McIlroy won his second straight major – and fourth overall – finishing with a 16-under 268.

“Hopefully we’ll sort of forget (the drama on 18) and remember the brilliant display of Rory on the back nine,” Nobilo said. “He never missed a green in regulation. He gave himself an opportunity on every single green. It was sort of a touch of Nicklaus, a touch of Woods, in the way in which he played that back nine. It was stunning.”

It was also revealing. In McIlroy’s three previous major championships, he never trailed on a Sunday. This past weekend, though, he fell behind by three strokes before coming back to win the tournament.

“He just stayed patient,” Nobilo said. “He stayed very, very patient – almost like he woke himself up and said, ‘I got to get back to my game.’ He didn’t panic. And then it was like, ‘I’m not going to lose this.’ He plotted his way to a brilliant finish.”

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, had another poor showing, missing the cut after shooting a pair of 74s last Thursday and Friday. Woods apparently still has hope for his career and wants to play in the Ryder Cup, but what’s his next move? What are his issues, and what can he do to correct them?

“Well, the problem is the gap in between the truth and the assumptions being made, and that’s what we can’t get to the bottom of,” Nobilo said. “So that’s why analysts like myself or Brandel (Chamblee are) going to (have) contrary opinions. We’re assuming an awful lot. We’re assuming he’s (not) healthy enough. We’re assuming the way in which Sean Foley coaches. We’re assuming what he would do with Butch Harmon. And really, the one thing we aren’t talking about is the truth – because none of us really know it.”

What we do know is that Woods has dealt with back issues, leg issues and knee issues, among other maladies. He also turns 39 in December.

Said Nobilo of the injuries, “I think it takes its toll on an athlete.”

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