By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
KOHLER, Wis. -- The 92nd PGA Championship began with Phil Mickelson, one of the PGA TOUR's most fervent carnivores, revealing that he had been a vegetarian for the last eight weeks after being diagnosed with psoraitic arthritis. And he even likes it.
Then we moved from Mickelson's eating habits to two people who almost certainly won't be dining together any time soon -- U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin and TV reporter Jim Gray.
The two got into a classic he-said, no-I-didn't-say battle after Tiger Woods announced he would accept a captain's pick. And things got ugly with fingers pointed after Pavin's Wednesday news conference where the U.S. skipper maintained Gray misquoted him as saying the world No. 1 was a lock for a pick.
Woods was a storyline throughout the week, as he always is, but this time it was for his continuing subpar play rather than a challenge for the first win of his truncated and troubled 2010 season. And don't forget the marathon fog delays on Thursday and Friday that had alarm clocks working overtime in the wee hours from Milwaukee to Sheboygan.
But then there was Sunday, one of the most entertaining -- and excruciating -- final rounds in major championship history.
Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson went overtime before the 25-year-old from Dusseldorf, Germany, won the three-hole aggregate playoff and forged his name on the the Wanamaker Trophy. Either would have been the 12th winner in his 20s on the PGA TOUR this year, but Kaymer double-dipped and became the 12th international champ in the last 18 events.
For about 20 painful minutes, though, it appeared that there would be three players going extra holes to win his first major championship. But a rules violation sounded the death knell for Dustin Johnson, who ended up in a tie for fifth.
The big-hitting South Carolinian, who had squandered a three-stroke advantage on the first two holes of the final round of the U.S. Open in June, was on the verge of redemption when he seized the lead with a 12-foot birdie on the par-3 17th hole. A bizarre series of events cost Johnson a spot in the playoff, though.
He hit his drive at the 18th hole well right into the ample crowd, which immediately ringed the ball and carved out an alley of humanity toward the fairway. When Johnson made his way up the bank, he found the ball on some hard-packed sand, but with the collection of feet amid the sand and the wiry, wispy grasses he had no idea he was in a bunker.
Of course, Whistling Straits has an estimated 1,200 of them on the property, dotting the landscape of the Pete Dye creation like craggy craters on the moon. There are so many, and so many of them are so indistinct, that the PGA of America included instructions for play in a local rule.
The bunkers were to be played as bunkers whether they had been raked or not. Given that many -- including the one where Johnson's ball landed -- were outside the ropes, footprints and tire tracks would be offered no relief.
So Johnson got in trouble when he ground his club behind the ball. He knew better, but he thought his ball had simply landed in some sandy soil here on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not in a bunker -- "it never crossed my mind," he said.
Johnson missed the green with his approach, but he hit a great lob shot to 6 feet and actually had a chance to save par -- and the outright win, in the process. Or so he thought. As soon as he missed, though, a rules official walked up and put his arm around Johnson's shoulder and his fate was sealed.
"I said, 'What bunker?," recalled Johnson, who manned up and spoke with reporters in the locker room after the round. "But then we looked on the TV and I definitely grounded the club, which I never denied."
Kaymer and Watson didn't know quite what to think while the drama played out. CBS announcer David Feherty even walked back to the spot and did a live report with the crowd huddled around the patch of sand, straining to be seen on TV. But once the two-shot penalty was assessed, the young German and the American knew they had work to do.
"We said, 'OK, it's only between us now,' but it's still sad to see," Kaymer said.
The first two holes were essentially halved with birdies, but Watson's fate was sealed when he hit his approach into the water on the third hole. So Kaymer ended up with the Wanamaker Trophy, and Watson's consolation prize was a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with, as it turned out, Johnson, who also played his way onto the team.
""It was heartbreaking to hear about Dustin Johnson," Watson would later say. "The guy's played great golf, and he just made a mistake. .. That's very disheartening and that's why this situation today was just weird. We sat in the locker room, and didn't know what was going on.
"... Going into the playoff without him, it didn't seem right. But I made the Ryder Cup, so that's all I care about."
Watson's right. It was a weird ending to a weird week. But we'll see the same protagonists a lot over the next six weeks in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and the Ryder Cup unfold. Who knows what else might happen?