Lost in all of the talk of poor weather at Kiawah Island, S.C., and how the PGA Tour is grappling with the future of the long putter is one of the usual narratives surrounding the PGA Championship.
It involves the tournament's surprising tendency to produce previously unknown winners. John Daly is the best example from the past 25 years, coming as he did from well down the alternates list to win the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in 1991.
At least Daly used that victory as a launching pad to become one of the game's most popular players, among other things. Daly has won four more times on the PGA Tour, including the 1995 British Open, and has made even more headlines for his erratic behaviour, multiple wives and everyman appeal.
In that context, Daly doesn't fit the mould of the PGA's tendency to crown a winner and then -- excuse the comparison given what's still going on in London -- watch as that player fades away like an Olympic champion in an obscure sport.
Rich Beem. Mark Brooks. Shaun Micheel. Wayne Grady. There are many others. Major champions all, all winners of the PGA Championship, but players whose career after the big victory faded to black.
It may sound harsh, but it's a simple fact. When was the last time you heard about Beem or Micheel, two guys who could have become household names after winning the PGA Championship in such impressive fashion in 2002 and 2003, respectively?
Both never won again and are no longer full-fledged PGA Tour members.
More recent examples include Y.E. Yang and Martin Kaymer. Yang famously reeled in Tiger Woods three years ago at Hazeltine, hoisting his golf bag over his head in a scene reminiscent of how hockey players lift the Stanley Cup. Yang has since won a lower-level European Tour event in China, but hasn't really been a factor on the PGA Tour.
Kaymer soon became the world's No. 1 player not long after beating Bubba Watson in a playoff at Whistling Straits in 2010, in a tournament remembered just as much for Dustin Johnson grounding his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole that cost him a spot in that playoff.
Kaymer's ascension to No. 1 came on the strength of his PGA Championship win and others in Europe in early 2011, but since that time, the German has not played well. He enters action this week ranked 21st, but could be headed for a precipitous drop once his points for that run gradually fall out of the two-year rolling cycle that is used to determine the ranking.
Historically, there are just as many examples, such as Brooks (1988) and Grady (1990). Even Paul Azinger (1993) fits the description to a degree, though he scratched out about another 10 solid years on tour, winning once at the season-opening Sony Open in Hawaii in 2000.
The players in question certainly don't know or they would have had far more success after they won. Generally, when other players are asked, the question is met with a shrug as if to suggest they are puzzled by the tendency just as much as the media and fans who ask the question.
If there is a reason, it's likely because the PGA Championship, though one of golf's four majors, has far more variables at play than the other three. It comes just as a long season is winding down and has always fallen last after the U.S. Open, British Open, the World Golf Championships event at Firestone and at least one other reasonably important non-major. That all happens in about eight weeks and involves a transatlantic journey and an adjustment to playing links golf required at the British Open.
By comparison, there are 10 weeks between the Masters and the U.S. Open and players often don't even leave the east coast during that span.
Further, whereas the U.S. and British Opens each take place on a handful of courses, the PGA Championship moves around more, which lessens the "horses for courses" dynamic that helps some players prepare for, say, Augusta National and certain venues for the two national championships.
Put it all together and it brings the favourites back to the field. So, though Woods is the overwhelming favourite, don't be surprised if another upstart breaks the tape first on Sunday afternoon.
The bigger question is whether you'll remember that player's name by the time the next Olympics rolls around.
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