PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) - Even as golf embarks on the final major of the year at the PGA Championship, still fresh in the mind is the closing round Phil Mickelson put together at Muirfield to win the British Open. He birdied four of the last six holes for a 6-under 66, the best round of the day in demanding conditions.
It matched the low round of the week and was 7.5 shots better than the average score that Sunday. It also was the lowest final round ever at Muirfield by the champion, and the best by any British Open champion in 16 years.
Can the PGA Championship top that?
The PGA has had its share of great closing rounds, such as the time Bob May shot 66 at Valhalla to get into a playoff with Tiger Woods, who had a 67. Woods ended up beating May in a three-hole playoff.
Dating to the start of stroke play in 1958, here are five examples of the greatest closing rounds in the PGA Championship:
5. SLUMAN BEATS THE HEAT: Paul Azinger was poised to atone for his runner-up finish at the British Open the previous year when he opened with rounds of 67-66 at Oak Tree outside Oklahoma City, and then had a 71 to take a one-shot lead over Dave Rummells going into the final round of the 1988 PGA Championship.
Jeff Sluman, who was six shots behind at the halfway point, cut the deficit in half with a 68.
Rummells quickly went the other direction and faded to a 75. Azinger looked poised to capture his first major, and it all turned on one hole.
Sluman holed out with a wedge from 115 yards on the par-5 fifth hole, while Azinger a few groups later took a bogey. Sluman kept right on going until he had a 7-under 65, the low score of the final round, to beat Azinger by three shots.
“He shot 65 to beat me,” Azinger said. “I had a guy who had never won, and I thought if I shot par, that might have been good enough. It didn’t even come close.”
4. GRAHAM SLAYS THE MONSTER
This wasn’t in the same category of when Ben Hogan shot 67 in the final round at Oakland Hills in the 1951 U.S. Open and famously said that he was glad he brought “this monster to its knees.” But what David Graham did in the 1979 PGA Championship was impressive.