TULSA, Okla. — There would be no repeat celebration for golf’s old guard Sunday.
Stewart Cink was the elder statesman on the PGA Championship leaderboard when the 49-year-old started the final round at Southern Hills tied for seventh and hoping to follow up Phil Mickelson’s stunning win at 50 last year.
A victory to match Mickelson would have made Cink the second-oldest major champion in history. It was not to be.
Cink shot a 1-over 71 in tough conditions Saturday on his birthday and entered the final round seven shots behind leader Mito Pereira. The 2009 British Open champion said he felt “as physically capable as ever” and able to keep up with the length of the younger generation. He won the RBC Heritage last year at age 47.
Cink needed a fast start to have any chance, but two bogeys on his first three holes, including a second shot that flew the green on the third, all but ended his chase for a second major. He closed with a 4-over 74.
Two-time PGA champion Rory McIlroy had the gallery buzzing when he went charging out with four birdies in the first five holes Sunday.
That got him to 4-under and thinking that if he could post a big score, that could put the Northern Irishman in a play for a fifth career major and his first since 2014 if the leaders faltered.
They did, but he didn’t.
The early buzz turned into a grind when McIlroy’s putts shaved the lip of the cup time and again, settling for pars instead of continuing his climb up the leaderboard. He closed with a 68 that could have been a lot lower.
The putter finally worked when it was all but too late: McIlroy was left shaking his head about what could have been when he buried an 11-footer for par on the closing hole.
Big three, big flop
Refurbished Southern Hills was expected to be good hunting ground for the top three players in the world to add another major championship.
The course and Tulsa’s wacky weather chewed them up instead.
Masters champion and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler came in as the hottest player in golf and missed the cut. Second-ranked Jon Rahm and third-ranked Collin Morikawa barely made the weekend and started Sunday’s final round at the back of the pack.
Over the course of four days, the top three played one round under par between them.
Rahm and Morikawa finally attacked the course when it was far too late. Rahm shot a 2-under 68 on Sunday. Morikawa was going backward all morning and was 11 over for the tournament before he closed with four birdies over the last six holes to shoot 70.
“It was just tough. I never got in a rhythm. Guys are playing this course pretty well. I just couldn’t figure it out,” Morikawa said. “You know, I’m going to have to go back and look at this week and figure out what was wrong. Just not a lot of good. Just a lot of just grind.”
Rickie Fowler made his way around the course looking like a barbecue pit master with the big hand warmers he was wearing when the weekend morning temperatures were still in the 50s.
The black and gray gloves are so large they resemble oven mitts. Fowler made no apologies for the look on a day some players were in shirt sleeves while others wore jackets.
“That’s your lifeline,” Fowler said Sunday. “I may look soft with these on … I got warm hands.”
Fowler, a two-time All-American at nearby Oklahoma State, sported bright orange pants and closed with a 70 to finish in a tie for 23rd, his second-best showing in 10 events this year.