Just 39 days after Hideki Matsuyama claimed the biggest prize ever won by a Japanese golfer, the second major championship of 2021 will tee-off in South Carolina.
This week’s PGA Championship takes place at Kiawah Island which became famous 30 years ago when it hosted the most fractious Ryder Cup of all time.
In September 1991, unruly and rowdy spectators helped to create an atmosphere so hostile that the match was dubbed the ‘War On The Shore‘ by the golfing media.
The Americans snatched a narrow 14½-13½ victory after Bernhard Langer missed a five-foot putt for a tie, on the final green of the final singles.
Langer remarked, many years later, “it was the first time the Ryder Cup nearly got out of hand.”
Paul Azinger, now a TV commentator, became embroiled in an argument with Seve Ballesteros and famously made a crass comment comparing his team’s success at Kiawah Island, to his country going to war with Iraq earlier that year.
Spaniard Manuel Pinero, who played in 1981 and 1985, and was helping European skipper Bernard Gallacher in 1991, described the week as his worst experience at a Ryder Cup.
He said the fans became “too involved in matches” and at times were “too close to the players.” He admitted being “worried about the future of the Ryder Cup”.
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Thankfully, 21 years later, the atmosphere was much calmer when Kiawah’s Ocean Course staged its first major championship which was won by a 23-year-old Rory McIlroy.
And it’s back to the beach again this week, when the players travel to the Atlantic coast for the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, situated some 25 miles south-west of Charleston.
The Ocean Course was designed by Pete and Alice Dye, and opened in 1976.
Thanks largely to its coastal location, the venue certainly resembles that of a British links course, with weather to match.
The Ocean Course is reckoned to be one of America’s toughest layouts, with the 2012 PGA Championship being the first major in history to be contested on fairways and putting surfaces covered by paspalum grass.
Sand and coastal scrub is in plentiful supply on most holes, and there are many twists and turns, and fairway-kinks, along the way.
Water is realistically a threat on 10 holes, and maybe a few more depending on how wayward a golfer is.
Since America triumphed at the 1991 Ryder Cup, it’s generally been an unlucky venue for home golfers.
In 1997, when the World Cup of Golf was staged here, the tournament was won by Ireland, with Scotland runners-up. Colin Montgomerie won the individual event while the United States, represented by Justin Leonard and Davis Love, joined forces to finish third.
Leonard and Love had both won majors that year, but were unable to prevent European golfers from occupying the top four positions in the individual competition.
Six years later the World Cup of Golf returned to Kiawah and was won by South Africa. England, France and Germany came next, with the hosts – represented by Jim Furyk and Leonard – finishing in a tie for fifth, alongside Ireland. The format had changed by then, and there was no individual event.
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Another nine years on, and to the final major of 2012, which witnessed McIlroy’s amazing eight-stroke triumph – and it remains a record winning margin for the PGA Championship. Englishman David Lynn finished as runner-up, with seven Europeans and three Americans occupying the top 10 positions.
In many ways, Europe has exacted its Kiawah revenge over the United States, many times, since the infamous Ryder Cup of 1991.
Meanwhile, the PGA of America has agreed for 10,000 fans to attend this week’s tournament on a daily basis.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves