What a year it was for golf…
Let’s look at some of the highlights and lowlights of this past year.
The Painful Collapse of Jordan Spieth
Spieth dominated Augusta in 2014 holding a share of the 54-hole lead with Bubba Watson, 18 holes away from being the youngest Masters winner ever. In 2015, he finally won the coveted green jacket. Not to mention he dominated, his victory was the first wire-to-wire Masters win since Raymond Floyd’s in 1976. So, 2016 seemed like the year Spieth would make a run at his second consecutive green jacket. And as we all know, he was oh so close. Holding a lead going into Sunday, Spieth could taste victory. But the back 9 at Augusta had other plans. Spieth had one of the biggest collapses in recent sports history. He bogeyed 10 and 11.
Number 12. A 155-yard par 3. Its narrow green is protected by water in the front and a few bunkers around the whole. And for all of you that watched you know what comes next… Spieth hit two balls into the water, carding a quadruple-bogey and dropping him to a tie for fourth, three shots back of the leader with six holes to play. Spieth would finish 2nd to Danny Willett.
Nike no longer making clubs
Tiger Woods, Rory Mcilroy, Brooks Koepka, Jhonattan Vegas and Tony Finau are some of the bigger name PGA Tour guys that will not be playing under a Nike contract come 2017. Nike has stopped making balls, clubs and bags but they will continue their apparel line. This means for these golfers they will have to explore new clubs or continue playing their Nike clubs that will be soon outdated. We saw multiple Nike athletes put Taylormade’s M series drivers in play. We saw the golfers also using this club freedom to use new putters including Rory and Tiger who went back to their “old reliable” Scotty Cameron putters. It will be interesting to see how and where everyone else falls. Companies like PXG, Cobra and Callaway must be drooling at this opportunity.
RIP to a Legend
Although 2016 was an overall good year for golf, it lost one of, if not the most, important people in the history of the game. Arnold Palmer died in late September and even though the golf world knew it was coming, it was a tough pill to swallow. The 4-time Masters champion was so much more than just a golfer, he was an ambassador of the game and a hero to almost every player on tour. He was much more than his delicious drink. Losing Arnold Palmer will be a tough one for golf for years to come. But Arnie’s Army will move on in memory of him.
No I’m not talking about Jim Furyk’s age, he’s only 46. I am talking about the first player to ever shoot 58 in more than thousands of competitive rounds played on the PGA Tour. This came on the final round at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. On his way to carding this historical round he hit all 18 greens in regulation, he carded 10 birdies, 2 eagles and only had 24 putts in 18 holes. When you’re on you’re on. If this tells you anything, it is that no matter how unconventional your swing is, if it works, stick to it. Furyk has one of the most unconventional swings on tour and he shot a 58. So next time someone gives you a hard time about your swing, tell them to YouTube Mr. 58.
The Ryder Cup
The grand daddy of them all. The Ryder Cup. Bragging rights on social media, the best golfers in the world and a great stage in Hazeltine for them to compete on. The United States has been hungry for a win since 2008 when they defeated Europe at Valhalla. From the first day, you knew it was the United States year. From Tiger and Bubba not even playing just there to help out the guys to the cool and calm Davis Love III. The U.S was spirited as well playing this tournament for the late great Arnold Palmer, trying to bring the title back to the states for him. The Europeans were no slumps though, boasting a roster including Henrik Stenson who was on fire all year, Rory McIlroy and Masters Champion Danny Willett. But the United States, led by Captain America Patrick Reed didn’t back down and took down team Europe 17-11, the united states largest win since 1981. After the win Love III dedicated the win to Palmer, who fueled the star studded U.S team all week.
Although Rory McIlroy stole the FedEx title from Dustin Johnson, Johnson was by far the most dominate player on tour this season. Only missing the cut at one of his 22 starts, DJ dominated with wins at the US Open, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, and the BMW Championship. He added 15 top 10’s and won $9,365,185 to his already strong resume. He averaged 313 yards a drive, 2nd in the PGA, and averaged a score of 69.1, the best on the whole tour. He also carded 16 eagles, thanks to his otherworldly power and distance. Johnson was also a part of the US Ryder Cup team that beat Europe at Hazeltine.
The long awaited time finally came late in 2016, the return of Tiger. So many questions loomed before his return at the HERO World Classic. What would he use now that Nike doesn’t make clubs? Would he compete? Is he going to withdraw if he plays bad? He joined six of the worlds top 10 golfers at Albany in The Bahamas. We found out a few days before the round he would be sticking with his Nike blade irons and going with the Taylor Made M Series wood and driver. This got everyone even more excited to see if Tiger could keep up with the distance of today’s elite. After an opening day 73, and some struggles off the tee, optimism was in the air. Then round two happened and people were getting excited. He shot a 33 on the front with no bogeys and three birdies. Twitter was blowing up with tweets, videos and commentary of how good it was to have Tiger back. He then capped off the round with a bogey free back 9 shooting a 32 and people were predicting Woods to sweep every major this year. Round 3 and 4 reminded us Tiger wasn’t quite in 2005 form yet. But it was a great building block to what hopefully ends up being a great 2017 for Woods. It is hard to be a golf fan and root against a comeback. He announced his next appearance will be at Genesis Open at Riviera on Feb. 16-19 in Los Angeles. This is the tournament Woods made his PGA debut in 1992 as an amateur.
Lets hope that 2017 brings us as much drama and golf greatness as 2016 did.