Bunker Mentality

Five things we learned from the US PGA Championship

Bunker Mentality

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McIlroy after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round at Kiawah (Reuters)

Let's be honest, we're all incredibly busy. Nobody has time to sit down and watch four rounds of golf coverage - unless, of course, you watch TV for a living, and if that's the case, please email us your number. So in an effort to condense the tournament coverage for you into a few quick hits, here are five things we learned from the US PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy made us look silly — Remember when Rory McIlroy missed three straight cuts earlier in the year and struggled to find any semblance of consistency, prompting many of us to wonder if he was ever going to find the form that saw him win the 2011 US Open by eight shots? Yeah, don't we feel silly. McIlroy arrived at Kiawah Island and proclaimed he was confident that his game was ready to contend at the US PGA Championship. That ended up being the understatement of the century, as McIlroy obliterated the field with one of the most impressive weekends we've seen in some time.

Racking up 13 birdies in two days was certainly impressive, but it was the manner in which McIlroy went about the last two days that left everyone impressed. After struggling with pretty much every aspect of his game over the final three days of The Open, McIlroy posted a strong finish at Firestone and then showed up to the US PGA Championship looking like a guy who'd been playing at a championship level all year long. He made the key putts when they were needed, held off a hard-charging Ian Poulter on the front nine, and then pulled away from the field late in the day.

Going into the week, McIlroy gave himself a 'B' grade for his 2012 season. But following his win on Sunday, the kid decided to alter his grade to an 'A-plus.' Based on what we saw from him this week, it's hard to argue with his grade choice when his resume has a Major on it.

John Daly isn't going anywhere — It used to be that a made cut from Daly was reason enough to celebrate, but over the past eight-plus months, the two-time Major winner has turned into, dare we say it, one of the most consistent golfers in the game. Daly has only missed three cuts in 18 starts and has three top-20 finishes in his last three starts. That's what we call getting on a roll. Also, don't look now, but after picking up four birdies on the back-nine during Sunday's final round, Daly's T-18 finish moved him up to 131st on the US PGA Tour Money List. If he can somehow close the season with a couple strong finishes, and pass six other names on the list, he'll end up with a full-time spot on tour next year. Imagine that: Daly playing a loaded schedule again on the US PGA Tour. It's no longer a pipe dream.

Keegan Bradley deserves some recognition — Bradley failed to defend his US PGA Championship title, but he still deserves credit for what he accomplished on Sunday, opening with a bogey before reeling off five birdies to finish the tournament at 4-under. It wasn't anywhere close to McIlroy's 13-under final score; however, Bradley's T-3 means he now has a win and top-three in his only US PGA Championship starts. With the exception of Rory McIlroy, nobody's playing better than Bradley, who won two weeks ago at the Bridgestone Invitational, at the moment. At least he's peaking at the right time with the Ryder Cup right around the corner.

Ian Poulter can't keep it going — Despite opening up his final round with six birdies in his first seven holes, Ian Poulter had to believe his birdie binge was unsustainable. At some point he'd need to recover and get up-and-down for par - something he was unable to accomplish on the back nine. After going out in 5-under 31, he came home in a less-than-stellar 2-over 38 to fall well off the pace. Poulter gave it one heck of a run, but you have to think McIlroy maintaining his lead frustrated him a bit. Even though he failed to win his first Major this year, Poulter contended in three of the four, recording top-10 finishes at the Masters (7th), US Open (T-9) and US PGA Championship (T-3). That's a huge improvement from last season, where he missed the cut in two Majors and failed to finish inside the top-25 in the other two.

Beware of the European Ryder Cup team — Davis Love III was likely squirming in his seat during the final round of the US PGA Championship. Why? Because with the exception of Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker (who's not even on the team at the moment), the leaderboard top-10 was full of players from around the globe. That usually isn't a bad thing, but when the Ryder Cup is right around the corner, the last thing you want to see, if you're the American Ryder Cup captain, is a top-three that includes Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter - three guys the Americans will likely see next month at Medinah.

Jonathan Wall, Yahoo! Sports,

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