Elks’ last hurrah
Is there another major championship left in Steve Elkington?
Maybe the tough and unforgiving Whistling Straits course might be just the fillip the former New South Welshman requires to win his second US PGA Championship when he heads for Kohler, Wisconsin this month.
Elkington will be one of just five Australians eligible for the final major of the year.
He’s a former winner of this event (1995) and as his long-time former coach Alex Mercer suggested, Elkington plays the tough courses well and always concentrates and tries just that little bit harder when it comes to an event like the PGA that he has won before.
Can the 46-year-old give Australian golf a last hurrah with another major win?
“That’s an awful big task,” admitted Mercer, the Sydney-based coaching guru who steered Elkington for much of his career.
“Steve is always fiddling with something or other in his swing, he’s always been a tinkerer, so you never know with him.
“But I look at him now and he’s swinging it as good as ever.
“He has a complete gymnasium in his home and he works out there every day, so he is as fit as he’s ever been as well.
“And now he’s well into his 40s he’s thinking if he can keep playing as good as he is that he could really have another great few years ahead of him when he gets to the seniors tour in a few years’ time.”
Mercer said a typical American course where the pros can shoot nine or 10 under-par would not suit Elkington.
But a tough, unforgiving layout like Whistling Straits might be right up his alley.
“And because he is a former PGA winner, he really has that drive to do well when he gets to this event each year,” Mercer said.
“Who knows what he is capable of? There’s no doubt he is still good enough to contend.”
Elkington will be one of just five Australians eligible for the 92nd US PGA Championship when it tees off from August 12-15.
The others are Jason Day, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott.
And Mercer suggests Jason Day also has the game to one day win a major championship, as well.
“Jason’s such a creative player and he’s an aggressive thinker as well,” Mercer told the Golfer Pacific.
“If he keeps going the way he has been the past couple of years he could definitely go on and take that next step and maybe become a major champion.
“He’s certainly one of our finest players now.”
Still Mercer pointed out that despite what appeared to be a slump in Australia’s major prospects this year, it was “cyclical” and there definitely were some young players coming through the ranks that had the talent to go on and make their mark.
“There are guys like Timmy Stewart, who played Eisenhower Cup for Australia before he turned professional,” Mercer said.
“Another young man who has impressed me is Mitchell Brown.
“I like the way he has gone about things since he turned professional.
“He’s quietly working his way through the ranks and he has a strong work ethic. “Of course the next step is a big one, but they have the talent to do something with their golf.
“I’ve always said that a guy like Brendan Jones had the talent to win a major and if he had the killer instinct of a Norman or an Elkington, he definitely could have been a hit in the United States.
“As it is he doesn’t play there much and is quite content to ply his trade in Japan.”
Of course as state coach Mercer sees a lot of the young men who have the golf games to succeed – if they don’t lose their way along the journey.
“There are a few other young guys who have to decide which way they are going to go in life and it’s not an easy path to take,” he says.
“Some of them look like worldbeaters but cannot take the next step and a lot of them get a shock just how competitive and tough it is out there when they do join the professional ranks.
“Maybe they haven’t worked hard enough when they were younger, it’s hard to say.
“But Australia definitely has a wealth of talent that could certainly make the jump and give is a major championship.
“Let’s hope its sooner, rather than later eh?”