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Incredible PGA Championship finish par for the course this season

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Not to be a buzzkill, golf fans, but you just watched the last men's major championship round for 249 days.

Oh, sure, there will be the upcoming Olympics and the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup and the West Coast and Florida swings next year. We're hardly done seeing world-class golf tournaments. But until the first ball is in the air sometime after 8 a.m. on April 6 at Augusta National, we are done with majors.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that we just witnessed an epic quartet of major finishes.

If you didn't spend the past four major Sundays continually bouncing off the edge of your couch, it might be time to check for a pulse.

Let's start with the latest one. Admittedly, the PGA Championship lacked a little juice for a while there. It wasn't Jimmy Walker's fault. He entered the final round with a lead, then did the type of thing you're supposed to do with the lead -- he made par on every hole on the front nine.

It was efficient, if not boring, golf. The type of golf we can at least appreciate and respect. Any lack of buzz, though, quickly dissipated on the back nine.

Walker holed out from the greenside bunker on 10, then holed a 30-foot birdie putt on 11. All of sudden, there was a charge throughout Baltusrol, an energy that was previously lacking.

The ending was even better.

Playing in the group ahead of Walker and trailing by three strokes, defending champion Jason Day hit a laser-beam into the par-5 18th green, then dropped his eagle putt. Minutes later, Walker briefly looked like he might have a Jean Van de Velde moment, only to calmly card a two-putt par and lock up his first career major trophy.

"Incredible finish, it really was," Walker said afterward. "Just puts a smile on my face. It hasn't even really sunk in yet."

Considering where this tournament stood 24 hours before he tapped in the clinching putt, it's a minor miracle that it even finished Sunday evening. Finishing with some drama was just icing on the cake.

And yet, if you had to rank each of this year's majors based on storylines and entertainment value, the PGA Championship still comes in last. That's not a knock on what happened on this Sunday; it's a paean to what happened on the other three Sundays.

The Masters featured Jordan Spieth blowing a big lead in the blink of an eye. Seemingly on his way to a back-nine coronation, he opened with two bogeys, then chunked two shots into the water on the famous 12th hole, posting a quadruple-bogey and paving the way for Danny Willett to claim the green jacket.

If you're the type who watches NASCAR races for the wrecks, it was right up your alley. For the rest of us, it was impossible to look away.

The U.S. Open could've taken on a similar tone. Dustin Johnson didn't appear to commit a rules violation on the fifth green at Oakmont, but the USGA let the decision hang in the balance while he tried to hold onto the lead. Uncommonly cool despite the chaos, Johnson smashed his way around the course in impressive fashion, topped off by a birdie on the challenging final hole.

When the USGA assessed a penalty after the round, he simply shrugged it off. "I don't even understand the rule, but I got a penalty," he said. "It didn't matter at the end of the day."

From heartache to confusion to drama, none of the other three majors could top what occurred during the final round of The Open. Playing in the final pairing, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson put on a display for the ages.

Mickelson, arguably one of the top 10 or 15 players of all time, entered the day trailing by one, shot 65 without a bogey and lost by three. That's because Stenson posted just the second-ever final-round 63 by a major champion, immediately putting himself in the conversation among the best rounds in history.

In the days afterward, their battle was compared favorably with Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus' Duel in the Sun from 1977. Watson and Nicklaus both thought this one was better.

That's the kind of major year it was. Painful, joyous, dramatic and historic. In a year when four first-time major winners each claimed the titles, we could've been left with a handful of duds. Instead, we were treated to some of the best theater that golf has offered in years.

It will be another 249 days until we see another major championship. That's all right, though. The memories from these four will endure until then -- and for many years to come.