Everything you need to know about golf in 2016


With 2016 drawing to a close, we recap the key moments from the world of golf from over the past 12 months.

Yips, insomnia, 58s, fights, robots and 439-yard drives…it has been another incredible year in the world of golf. 


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Business as usual

World No.1 Jordan Spieth begins 2016 where he left off in 2015 – by strolling to an eight-shot victory in the PGA Tour’s season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. “I’m very satisfied, all parts of my game were firing,” he smiles after rounds of 66, 64, 65 and 67 see him finish an incredible 30 under par.
And how does a 22-year old celebrate such a feat? First, he completes the purchase of an $8.5 million mansion in Dallas.
Then, he boards his private jet and flies across 14 different time zones to compete in Abu Dhabi.

He fought the saw…
Jamie Donaldson misses out on some potentially big Ryder Cup points when pulls out of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a hand injury – caused by an altercation with a chainsaw.

Fowler’s fashion
Not content with making orange the new black, Rickie Fowler moves the golf fashion needle further than it has ever been before by wandering the fairways wearing trousers with elasticated bottoms and ‘high-top’ boot-style golf shoes. The American believes the shoes are “great”, but reviews on social media are mixed. “If anyone can pull off that look, it’s Rickie,” says fellow PGA Tour pro Danny Lee diplomatically. “He looks good. Not everyone would.”

Fowler’s flying
Tired of letting his outfits do all the talking, Rickie Fowler pulls up his socks and holds off Thomas Pieters, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth to claim the second European Tour title of his career at the high-class Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. “I’d like to be part of that crew,” he replies, when asked about being
on the same level as Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. “If I can win some majors, I can jump in there.”

Team Xtreme
Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG) sends shockwaves through the golf equipment world when it announces the signings of five more PGA Tour stars, including the then reigning Open champion Zach Johnson and 2014 FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel. “They
must be offering loads of money,” grumble industry rivals.
“Not true,” retorts billionaire and company CEO Bob Parsons. “They came to me.”


Fight! Fight! Fight!
The gloves come off when Brandel Chamblee expresses “a little concern” about Rory McIlroy’s “extensive weightlifting”. McIlroy responds visually by sending Chamblee a video of his latest workout and verbally by answering a question about squats at his pre-tournament press conference for the Northern Trust Open with the following: “I haven’t done any so far today, but I’m planning some… maybe with Brandel on
my back.” We’d pay to see that.

Rise of the machines

Anything Tiger can do, Eldrick the robot can do too. Nineteen years on from the 14-time major winner’s chaos-prompting hole-in-one on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, organisers of the Phoenix Open set out to see if the mechanical Eldrick can achieve the same feat. The sweet-swinging automaton fails to hit the target on his first four attempts, but finds the bottom of the cup with his fifth.

What kept you?!
Ten years, five months and 24 days – that’s the length of time it takes Vaughn Taylor to lift his third PGA Tour title, when he shoots a final-round 65 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. His second win came back in 2005. “There were a lot of dark days and nights when I didn’t think it was going to happen,” he admits. But others have waited longer…
Butch Baird: 15 years, 5 months and 10 days (1961-1976)
Robert Gamez: 15 years, 6 months (1990-2005)
Anthony Wall: 16 years, 7 months and 22 days (2000-2016)

Not sorry
Shane Lowry feels no need to apologise after swearing live and loud on TV. “So I said a bad word… Shoot me!” he tweets after a mic picks up his reaction after dropping one into water at the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.

Room for one more?
Golf’s popularity is on the wane? Not at the Phoneix Open it’s not, where for the third successive year the event sets a new record for futility the total number of spectators attending a golf tournament (below).

2014: 563,008
2015: 564,368

Caddie smack
The PGA Tour’s top bagmen receive a blow when US District Judge Vince Girdhari Chhabria throws out their lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The loopers are claiming they should receive financial compensation for wearing sponsored bibs, but the lawman
decrees they knew what they were getting themselves in for when they entered the profession.


Reignwood reined in Wentworth’s Thai-Chinese owner shelves controversial
plans to charge existing members a one-off fee of up to £125,000 and cut membership numbers from 4,000 to 888. Chanchai Ruayrungruang’s Reignwood Group initially argued that these changes were necessary in order to make Wentworth one of the world’s top 10 golf clubs, but backs down after becoming embroiled in a bitter dispute with the club’s members and residents. “We are continuing to make every effort to accommodate the interests of members and estate residents, whilst focusing on our vision of making Wentworth club the world’s premier private golf and
country club,” says Ni Songhua of the Reignwood Group.

A new Day
Jason Day follows up his win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational with victory in the WGC-Dell Match Play to reclaim the World No.1 spot from Jordan Spieth. “I’m really thankful and happy, because it shows I have been busting my butt and doing the right things,” reveals the Australian.

Stranger than fiction
The most bizarre story of the year begins when South Korea’s In Gee Chun pulls out of the LPGA’s HSBC Champions event after being hit in the tailbone by a suitcase belonging to fellow competitor Ha Na Jang’s father. Going down an escalator, he had lost control of his luggage after getting distracted by his daughter tying her shoelace.
Lace tied, she goes on to win the event and overtakes Chun in the South Korean Olympic rankings. Cue conspiracy theories and accusations that Jang didn’t apologise enough and celebrated too much. Chun makes a full recovery but Jang falls into a depression, dizziness and vomiting that forces her to take a break. When she finally returns in July, her period on the sidelines means she ends up just shy of Olympic qualification. And so South Korea is represented in Rio by Inbee Park,
Hee Young Yang, Sei Young Kim and, you guessed it, In Gee Chun.

Branded boxers?
Sometimes getting paid lots of money by a sponsor is pants. And if you don’t believe us, ask Gary Woodland. The PGA Tour pro receives a call from Under Armour after he removes his trousers to play a shot from a water hazard at the Honda Classic. “They wanted to know why I wasn’t wearing Under Armour underwear,” reveals the big-hitting American. “I said, ‘I was’ and they said, ‘Next time, make sure to tuck your shirt in’.”

Hello World
The odds of getting a hole-in-one are astronomical enough. But to get a hole-in-one in front of Tiger Woods when you are an 11-year-old boy hitting the very first shot on the 14-time major winner’s latest course? Well played, young man.

Hart broken
In the final round of the PGA Tour of Australia’s Coca-Cola QLD PGA Championship, Tim Hart stands on the 18th tee needing a birdie for a 57, a par for a 58 and a bogey for a 59.
History is beckoning! But then…Hart pulls his tee shot out of bounds, then pushes his next drive and ends up with a triple bogey. Worse still, his 61 is only good enough to tie the lead, throwing him into a sudden-death play-off against David Klein. Which he loses, obviously. “Ah mate,” says Hart afterwards, which pretty much sums it up.

The price of failure
With rounds of 81, 80, 80 and 84, Steven Bowditch finishes just 37 over par at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, the worst total in the history of WGC events.
He still walks away with £33,000 in prize money.
“Hey, it’s just golf,” Bowditch reflects later, having been applauded off by four people.


Prime Beef
Golf’s latest cult hero is born when England’s Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston reveals how he plans to celebrate his victory in the Open de España. “I’m going to get hammered,” grins the 27-year old, to a live, amused or possibly outraged TV audience. True to
his word, he does exactly that, while dressed as a piñata.

Night and Day
Jason Day opens up about his latest ailment. “If I’m in contention and I have a chance
to win I get no sleep, as I’m so amped up from what’s going on that day.” Now we’re not qualified doctors, but it seems like there is a pretty simple cure for this malaise. Miss a few fairways and stop holing so many fine putts, Mr Day.

Tiger’s back!?
Golf writers and fans across the globe can barely contain their excitement when Tiger Woods signs up for the US Open at Oakmont. Nor their frustration when, just two weeks before the major, he announces that “he’s not ready for tournament play”.

Tiger: crazy man
In the build-up to his own 50th birthday, John Daly tells the Golf Channel about the time Tiger Woods refused to take ‘refreshment’ with him during the 2004 Target World
Challenge. “Tiger’s there in his workout clothes and I say, ‘Tiger come have a beer with us, man’,” says Daly. “Tiger says he’s going to the gym and I go, ‘Man, you don’t need to work out. You need to drink a little bit with us. Tiger replies ‘If I had your talent, I’d be doing the same thing you’re doing.’ I’m looking at him thinking, ‘You’re crazy, man’.”

Scott’s Rio no-show
Adam Scott becomes the first top-50 player to pull out of the Olympics. The 35-year-old trailblazer blames “a busy schedule and other, personal and professional, commitments”. In the following weeks and months he is joined by a litany of golfing
goliaths, including Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and numerous others, many of whom fear zika or expect they’ll be feeling a bit tired in August.

Masters Review
Meltdown. Implosion. Collapse. Choke. You can describe Jordan Spieth’s calamitous quadruple bogey on the par-3 12th in the final round of the Masters in any number of ways, but in truth none of them do his sudden transformation from major winner to mid-handicapper justice.
For the first 65 holes he’s in a world of his own, holing putts for fun and making
birdies at will. Then he arrives at Golden Bell. His tee shot bounces off the bank and finds the water. Now he is in the drop zone playing three.
Having arrived at the hole with a one-shot lead, if he makes bogey or even double he is still very much in the tournament.
But he doesn’t. “He’s never hit a wedge that fat in his life,” gasps Nick Faldo as the Texan’s third only just reaches the water hazard. Spieth guides his fifth into the back bunker and somehow gets up and down from there, but ultimately it adds up to seven
shots and leaves him too much to do.
Danny Willett swoops in to steal the Green Jacket, as you may already be aware. “This will hurt,” says Spieth.

Ernie Els starts with a nine, after taking six putts from three feet. “I was standing there, I’ve got a three-footer, I’ve made thousands of three-footers, and I just couldn’t take it back,” he cries.

Inside the mind of Bryson DeChambeau
Turning pro immediately after the Masters, DeChambeau is clearly not your average PGA pro. We know this because he is just the fifth man to win the NCAA individual title and the US Amateur. Because the shafts of his irons and wedges are all the same length. And because he studied physics at university.


No women, no Open
The R&A removes Muirfield from the Open rota after its membership fails to vote in sufficient numbers to allow female golfers to become members. According to the rules of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, constitutional changes must be voted in by two-thirds of the club’s membership, and in this postal ballot only 64 per cent of the 800 members are in favour of opening up the membership. “Women will continue to be welcome at Muirfield on the course and in the clubhouse as guests and visitors,” states club captain Henry Fairweather. “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the Championship at a venue that does not admit women as members,” responds R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, before adding… “If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for The Open in future.”

Apology of the Year Award
The award goes to……Tony Finau. Who turns up at a fan’s door with flowers, chocolates and a get well soon card the day after bouncing a drive off her head at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

A blow to the head
Zac Blair stakes a claim for the most unusual disqualification of the season at the Wells Fargo Championship. His troubles begin when he angrily hits himself in the head with his putter after missing a birdie putt. He composes himself, taps in and then realises that he bent his putter when he banged it off his head. That’s not illegal, but the fact he used it again is. He turns himself into a rules official on the next hole and exits soon after.

R.I.P Himself
Golf loses a legend when Christy O’Connor Snr dies in a Dublin hospital at the age of 91. The Irishman, known simply as ‘Himself’, played in 10 consecutive Ryder Cups, recorded six top-seven finishes in The Open and represented Ireland 15 times in the World Cup of Golf. His passing comes just four months after the death of his nephew Christy O’Connor Jnr.

Sawgrass: too fast
Jason Day strengthens his grip on the World No.1 spot with a wire-to-wire win at the Players Championship. Despite this, all everyone is talking about is the speed of the greens on a brutal Saturday when 24 players shot 78 or over and Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey both five-putt from under eight feet. “It was borderline unfair,” says Rory McIlroy. Billy Horschel goes even further. “I have never seen putts that fast before,” he
chomps. “It was putting on dance floors.”


New teen sensation
Eighteen-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson defeats Lydia Ko in a play-off to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and become the second youngest winner of an LPGA major title.

Trump dumped
Due to problems attracting sponsors, the WGC announces that it is moving the event that has been held at Trump National Doral since 2007 to Mexico.
“I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” blasts the future president. In better news, Trump Turnberry re-opens after a £200 million revamp.

Laying down the law
England’s Bronte Law is the star of the show as Great Britain & Ireland’s Curtis Cup team defeat the United States 11½-8½ at Dun Laoghaire in Ireland. In winning all five of her matches, the European Ladies Amateur champion becomes just the second golfer in history to post a perfect record in the event.

Well played, Bubba
PGA Tour venue The Greenbrier Resort is devastated after a “once in 1,000 years storm” causes severe floods in West over Virginia. Despite losing power for four days, Bubba Watson’s summer home overlooking the resort escapes relatively unscathed, but others are not so lucky. “There are people who now have nothing,” says Watson, who donates $250,000 to assist the relief effort.

On second thoughts…
Realising the error of its ways (or the economic reality of being
removed from The Open rota), the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers announces that it is going to hold a second postal ballot on the issue of admitting female members. When they reconvene, 360 of its 600 members vote “overwhelmingly” in favour of allowing women in.

Tank targets ‘chyips’
Hackers worldwide rejoice when Callaway announces the launch of the X-ACT Tank Chipper. The club fuses parts of a putter, a hybrid and a short iron to create a one-stop shop for all your short game necessities.

The future?
The world’s first fully-reversible course opens at Forest Dunes in Michigan. Tom Doak’s design features two 18-hole routings that can be played either way.

US Open Review:

When is a two-shot lead not a two-shot lead? On the final day of the US Open at Oakmont.
A farcical situation begins on the 5th green when Dustin Johnson’s ball moves during his pre-shot routine. According to DJ, playing partner Lee Westwood and the rules official with the group, he has not addressed the ball or caused it to move.
The USGA’s bigwigs review footage of the incident and decide his action probably
caused the ball to move after all. So that’s a one-stroke penalty,
right? Wrong.
DJ is informed on the 12th tee that he might be getting a one-stroke penalty, so has to play the final six holes not knowing whether his score is correct. “This is ridiculous,” rants Rory McIlroy. “Let the guy play without this crap in his head. If it was me I would not hit another shot until this farce was rectified.”
Fortunately for the USGA, DJ opts to play on. “From 12 to 18 all I was trying to do was hit one shot at a time,” he explains, en route to a four-shot victory and long-overdue maiden major.
However, to perhaps remind the world they are in charge, the USGA does later impose a one-shot penalty in the scorer’s hut to cut the victory margin to three. It ultimately makes no difference, but surely reflects badly on the men in the blazers.

Rory’s +8
Rounds of 77 and 71 see Rory McIlroy miss the cut by two shots. “Right now I just need to focus on trying to hit fairways and hit greens,” he says afterwards. “I think I hit five fairways +8 and eight greens out there.”


The Open shootout REVIEW
According to the record books 156 golfers teed off in the 145th Open Championship.
According to the scoreboard 154 need not have bothered. Not since the Duel in the Sun in 1977 have two men dominated a major to the extent that Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson dictate proceedings at Royal Troon.
Mickelson is first to shine, posting a majors record-equalling 63 that should have been a 62.
“That stings,” says Lefty, after his final putt lips out. On day two, it is Stenson’s turn to take centre stage, posting a 65 to move into second place, a stroke behind
By the end of the third round he has taken a one-shot advantage, and then the real drama begins. “It is probably the best I have played and not won,” laments Mickelson after shooting a bogey-free six-under 65 to finish 11 shots ahead of JB Holmes in third.
The only reason Mickelson doesn’t win is down to the inspired Stenson. After three major second places and six major third places, the 40-year-old Swede closes with a 10-birdie 63 to finish a record-breaking 20-under to secure his first major victory. “I felt like it was my turn,” smiles the Swede. “But I knew Phil was not going to back
down, so I had to keep on pushing right to the end.”

Lefty’s lament
In the history of the Open Championship, only five men have finished 17-under or better. And of those five, Mickelson is the only one not to have lifted the Claret Jug.

Jaeger master
Unheralded German-born professional Stephan Jaeger opens the Web.com Tour’s Ellie May Classic with a 12-under 58 – the lowest score ever recorded in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. “Days like this are very, very rare,” he grins.

Broadly ecstatic
Paul Broadhurst shoots a bogey-free final-round 68 to storm past Miguel Angel Jimenez and seal a two-shot win in the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie.
The 50-year old receives a big cheque, a gorgeous trophy and a two-year exemption for America’s lucrative PGA Tour Champions circuit.

GMac says sorry
Graeme McDowell feels the need to apologise after swearing live
on television. “Not a massive fan. Pardon my #French,” tweets the Northern Irishman after treating a fan’s baba booey shout with the contempt it deserves.

Rules are rules
The US Women’s Open ends in controversial circumstances when Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist is penalised after TV cameras spot her brushing the sand as she addresses a bunker shot on the second hole of her three-hole play-off with Brittany Lang. The
ruling is not contentious, but the USGA only tells her after she’s played a conservative approach to the third play-off hole – but told Lang before she hit hers.

PGA Championship
Would 2016 join 1959, 1969, 2003 and 2011 as the only years when first-time major
champions lifted all four majors, or would Jason Day, Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth strike a blow for the ‘big three’ at Baltusrol? McIlroy and his “pathetic” short game bow out after 36 holes and Spieth cannot get anything going, leaving Day to represent the big boys in a final-round dog fight against a group of major-free players that includes 18, 36 and 54-hole leader Jimmy Walker.
Inexplicably, Day struggles.”I didn’t hit it close enough to give myself any chances,” he
laments, having watched the Texan prevail by a single shot.
“I felt like I could win majors and now I know I can,” smiles Walker, who goes on to reveal that Baltusrol already had a special place in his heart. “I met my caddie here during the 2000 US Amateur,” he reveals. “To win our first major where we met is just cool.”

Over and out
Nike announces it is pulling out of the golf equipment market to focus on clothes and shoes. The global giant, sponsor of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, has been making clubs for 17 years, but saw revenues drop eight per cent between 2015 and 2016.

Knox knocks
Russell Knox wins his second PGA Tour title of the season at the Travelers Championship to leap into the world’s top 20 and thrust himself into contention for
a Ryder Cup wildcard. “Darren’s goal is to pick the three best players who did not make the team, and I have a hard time thinking I am not one of those right now,” he tells Golf Digest. Does European captain Darren Clarke agree? Keep reading…

Beer for all
Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan make their mates very happy when they win a year’s supply of beer at the D+D Real Czech Masters. Fitzpatrick secures his booty by winning the longest drive competition and Sullivan grabs his for winning the closest to the hole.
“It couldn’t have gone to a more worthy winner,” smiles Sullivan.

The dangers of golf
The August heat starts getting to America’s golfers. First, two players indulge in a spot of fisticuffs when a golfer hits into the group in front at Fossil Trace Golf Club in Denver, Colorado.
Worse still, a 61-year old in Utah stabs a member of the group in front for not letting him play through. Reminder to all: don’t stab anyone, ever, please!

Mr 59 is no more!
Not content with his status as a ’59er’, Jim Furyk becomes the first man in history to shoot 58 on the PGA Tour at the Travelers Championship. It is, he says, “phenomenal”. And it is.

Lambs to the slaughter?
Captain Clarke’s three wildcard picks are announced as Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters, and not Russell Knox. It means Europe head to Hazeltine with six rookies among their number.

Mr Allenby… again
Just when it looks like we might make it through 12 full months without mentioning Robert Allenby, the Australian is arrested for disorderly conduct and trespass in the early hours of the morning outside a
casino. Hey, we’ve all been there.
The charges are quickly dropped, but does it keep Allenby out of the headlines?
Nope. The 45-year old returns to the spotlight when he attacks his “haters” on Twitter, before engaging in an online slanging match with fellow Ausssie pro Aron Price. Come
back next year for the next sorry chapter.

Despite the dropouts, the protests, the fears of Zika-peddling death mosquitos and the claims that the format is all wrong, the first Men’s Olympics Golf Tournament for 112 years takes place in Rio.
From the off, the action is spectacular. Australia’s Marcus Fraser opens with a 63 and retains the lead after 36 holes. But from Saturday afternoon onwards it is the Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson show.
The two go toe-to-toe in a battle that stretches long into the final round. Level on the final hole, Stenson pitches to 20 feet, before Rose feathers a sumptuous wedge to just over two feet.
It’s the killer blow: Justin Rose is champion of the world.
“It’s a huge win for me and one I’ll be bragging about for quite a while,” he says. “I’ve been so focused, so into it and so up for it. It has just been the most magical week.” And what would he say to anyone who still questions golf’s place in the
Olympics? “I would just ask them, were you in Rio on Sunday?”


Arnold Palmer RIP
On September 25, seven-time major winner, brand ambassador, tournament organiser, course designer, philanthropist, businessman, pilot, soft drink manufacturer and all-round people’s champion, Arnold Palmer passes away, at the age of 87.
Three days later a letter arrives on English professional Paul Broadhurst’s doorstep. It is from Palmer and dated a few days before his death. “He was
congratulating me on my recent PGA Tour Champions wins and performances in the senior game,” reveals the Englishman.
In many ways this letter says more about Palmer than any of his achievements on the golf course. Yes, he was a man blessed with a special talent and charisma, but he was also someone who set out to make others feel good. They say never meet your heroes, but Palmer was the exception.
His smile never disappointed. His thumb never stopped pointing upwards. His autograph was never anything but immaculate. “It was human nature to him,” said good friend Doc Giffin. “He did it because it was the right thing to do.”
The only time Palmer ever openly did the wrong thing was on the golf course, and even
then he did it to please people. Attacking the flag when the centre of the green would have been more prudent; pulling out a driver when laying up was a more sensible option. If he had focused more on victory and less on entertainment there is no doubt he would have added to his haul of seven major titles.
But he also would not have been Arnie. And without Arnie, who knows where the game would be? “It is not an exaggeration to say that there would be no modern-day PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions or Golf Channel without Arnold Palmer,” agrees PGA Tour CEO Tim Finchem.
There also might not have been the same prestige surrounding the Open. The
British-based major was struggling to attract the top players from America before Palmer breathed new life into the event in the early 1960s. “Has anyone done more for our game?” asks R&A chief executive Peter Dawson rhetorically. “No one has ever come close.”

2016 Ryder Cup Report

There was no beating around the bush from United States captain Davis Love III or his
men. After three consecutive defeats, Team USA simply had to win the 41st Ryder Cup matches at Hazeltine in Minnesota.
Their cause gets off to the perfect start when Danny Willett’s brother decides to publish a ‘hilarious’ take down of America’s fans. The subsequent hullabaloo throws
Danny off his game to such an extent that he fails to win a point.
“S***,” is the word the Masters champion chooses to describe his virginal Ryder Cup experience.
At the opposite end of the spectrum lies Thomas Pieters. The 24-year-old Belgian is on the receiving end of a hammering in his first match, but after that he is electric. He teams up with Rory McIlroy to win three points from three matches then sees off JB Holmes in the singles. This four-point haul sets a new record for a European rookie, and along with the performances of McIlroy and Rafa Cabrera-Bello it hints at an exciting future for Team Europe.
Back in the present, just about all of the first day excitement revolves around Team U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A.
The boys in stars and stripes putt the lights out on their way to a 4-0 lead on the first morning. It is the first time the American team has swept the opening session since 1975. “It is a good start, but there is a long way to go,” says Love III.
The Friday afternoon fourballs see Europe pull level, until Lee Westwood’s putter hands the momentum back to the hosts, and it’s a lead they never relinquish. By the end of Saturday they are 9½-6½ in front and Europe are staring defeat straight in the eye.
But what a final day it is. The spectators are excited, the players are excited, the celebrations are exuberant and the golf is exceptional. Yes, the course set-up might be a tad too easy, but it leads to low-scoring and putts going in from everywhere, particularly when McIlroy and America’s cheerleader-in-chief Patrick Reed lock horns in an opening, epic singles encounter.
By the end of the day the US are out of sight, romping home to a 17-11 landslide. Yes, Europe tried hard. And yes, they played some sensational golf in patches. But in the end America had all the answers.

Show me the money
Rory McIlroy receives a nice $10m bonus for winning the FedEx Cup. After struggling on the greens for most of the season, Rory rediscovers his putting va-va-voom when he begins working with guru Phil Kenyon. The following week he wins the Deutsche Bank Championship, then three weeks later defeats Ryan Moore
in a play-off to win the Tour Championship and seal his first FedEx Cup.
Whatever Mr Kenyon charges, he’s worth every penny.

Beef watch
Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston completes a fairytale season
when – having signed a major sponsorship deal with a US
burger joint – he gains his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour Finals. Better still, he does it on National Cheeseburger Day.

Legendary company
Quiz time. Can you name the only three players to win professional titles at both Carnoustie and Pebble Beach?
Sorry, too slow. The answer is Ben Hogan, Tom Watson and – after he adds September’s Nature Valley First Tee Open to the Senior Open Championship he won in July – England’s Paul Broadhurst.

Fire in near the hole
A golfer in California unwittingly causes havoc when his golf club
strikes a rock at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course. The resulting spark starts a giant blaze that spreads more than 20 acres, burns for over three hours and requires 140 firefighters and three helicopters to put it out.


Worst year ever?
Had a bad year? Spare a thought for Jin Jeong. The 26-year-old
South Korean compiles a stroke average of 77.24 and fails to make a cut on the European Tour for the second season in a row.

TaylorMade for Rory
Rory McIlroy begins life after Nike when he packs TaylorMade’s M2 driver and
fairway woods at the WGC-HSBC Champions. “I’m trying a couple of things,” he admits. “But it definitely doesn’t mean it is permanent.” Watch this space…

Snug as a jug
What do you do if you are in possession of the world’s most important golf trophy and there is a hurricane on the way?
If your name is Henrik Stenson, you wrap the Claret Jug in a life jacket to protect it from the storm. Happily, no scratches or dents were reported.

Hideki gets hot
Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama becomes the first Asian to win a World Golf Championship event when he romps to a seven-shot victory at the WGC-HSBC
Champions in Shanghai. It is the 24-year old’s second PGA Tour win of the season and
it sees him climb to No.6 in the world rankings. “I can compete with everyone,” he says.

Old dog, new tricks
Padraig Harrington produces a short-game masterclass to win his first European Tour title for eight years at the Portugal Masters. “No matter where I hit it, I felt I could get up and down,” smiles the 45-year old. The secret of his success, he reveals, is a stress-busting book by Dr Dave Alred, entitled The Pressure Principle. “It definitely added a bit of gel that brought everything together.”

And the award for Drive of the Year goes to…
Joe Miller claimed his second World Long Drive Championship title when he blasts a 423-yard tee shot in his final against America’s Ryan Steenberg. The mighty heave stuns audiences worldwide, but it is not even Joe’s longest effort of the event. He hammers a 437-yard howitzer to win his quarter-final and a 439-yard monster to claim his semi-final. “I’ve been training hard,” he smiles.
Average golfer: 214 yards (Trackman data)
Average Tour Pro: 289.7 yards (2015 stats)
Joe Miller: 437 yards

Future fashion
Morgan Hoffmann sets tongues wagging when he dons a hooded top during the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open. Few of those tongues are complimentary.

No Turkey for Rory
Rory McIlroy harms his chances of winning the Race to Dubai when he pulls out of the Turkish Airlines Open due to security concerns. “It’s been weighing on my mind, and I slept a lot better after taking the decision,” he reveals. During that event, the European Tour offer a novel solution to lengthening a golf course when it places the tee for
the 16th hole on the roof of a villa. “It is a good story for the media, but for us it is just an elevated back tee,” says Padraig Harrington.

Fire starters
The European Tour unveils a number of new innovations at the British Masters, including the one-hole Hero Challenge. This evening event, which is played out in front of packed grandstands, sees the tournament’s biggest names face-off in a series of one-hole knockout matches. Add some pyrotechnics and music and you have a brilliant spectacle. “I would love to do more of this,” says winner Alexander Levy.
“It was amazing to see the crowds and everyone enjoyed it.”


Tiger’s back!?
Mixed messages from the former world number one this month.
First Tiger unveils a new logo for ‘TGR’ – a new brand created to bring together his many off-field ventures. Is The End – of his playing days – really now nigh?
But then… he announces he’ll finally return in December’s Hero World Challenge.
“I am excited to make my return and play in this terrific tournament,” he said.

Time for change
Rory McIlroy takes to the airwaves (okay, the NoLayingUp.com podcast) to reveal his displeasure at Europe’s current Ryder Cup qualification system. “For me, there shouldn’t be anything to do with membership of tours,” he says. “To have a guy like Paul Casey not on our team when he is playing some of the best golf in the world right now, definitely hurt us. It should be the best 12 players from Europe versus the best 12 players from the US.” Change is a-coming.

The Race is run
“The best year of my career,” beams Henrik Stenson in Dubai, having added the European Tour order of merit to his Claret Jug.
He’s one of four players who can walk away with the European Tour’s season-ending prize – Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren are in mathematical contention. The Swede never looks like winning but an ice-cold final-round 65 secures his second
order of merit. “It’s great to finish this way,” he smiles. Another man smiling wide is tournament winner Matt Fitzpatrick. He becomes the youngest winner of three European Tour titles – aged just 22 years and 80 days. The previous holder of that record had been one Nick Faldo – aged 22 years and 300 days – and we all know how that career turned out. “Words can’t describe it,” chokes the young man.
Meanwhile, on the same day, we end where this feature began:
Jordan Spieth wins the Australian Open for a second time. The last time he won it, in 2014, the season of his life followed. Will history repeat itself in 2017?

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