Big Three no more as parity returns after Tiger Woods era

Mon Aug 1, 2016 5:00pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

SPRINGFIELD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The golf year started with buzz about the dominance of a new Big Three of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy that echoed the storied days of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

The major championship season ended, however, with four maiden major winners, as American Jimmy Walker capped a grand slam sweep for first-timers at the PGA Championship where the Texan toughed it out over a 36-hole final day to triumph.

The results in the majors suggest that parity has returned in the post-Tiger Woods era.

The victory by Walker, 37, followed Englishman Danny Willett at the Masters, American Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open and Sweden's Henrik Stenson at the British Open, striking four hefty blows for those on the 'yet to win a major' list.

"I think it shows that everybody out here playing is really good, and everybody's got a chance to win," Walker said after a bogey-free final round at rain-battered Baltusrol capped by a last three-foot par putt that kept world number one Day at bay.

Day, who won the PGA last year at Whistling Straits for his long-awaited major victory, showed off his wondrous talents and competitive grit by turning up the heat on Walker by firing a two-iron to the green on the par-five last hole and draining the putt for eagle that forced Walker to par for the win.

The 28-year-old Australian said he pleased by the way he played in defense of his PGA title and said expectations might have been driven too high by the exploits of Woods in his heyday.

Woods dominated for more than a decade, winning 14 majors between 1997 and 2008, while nobody else among active players has more than the five majors collected by Phil Mickelson.   Continued...

Jul 2, 2016; Akron, OH, USA; Jason Day of Australia tees off on the seventeenth hole during the third round of the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports