The Best 13 From 2013
As the year of 2013 draws to a close we can look back at the many memorable happenings in the game. Here is our take of the most significant 13 moments and achievements.
13. Lydia Ko turns professional. The 16 year old Kiwi who was born in South Korea has already won 5 tournaments on the LPGA Tour. Up until now, she hasn’t received any prize money for any of those events because she was an amateur. That is about to change.
12. Jim Furyk birdied his final hole in his second round of the BMW Championship to shoot a 12-under par, 59. Furyk became only the sixth player in history to shoot the games’ most iconic number.
11. Anchoring a putter becomes banned. The two ruling bodies of golf, the Royal and Ancient, and the United States Golf Association announced that anchoring (allowing the shaft of the club to rest on your body) will become illegal on January 1, 2016. There are several high-profile players who are going to have to find a different way to putt. Notable amongst those are Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Tim Clark, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley.
10. Justin Rose wins his first Major Championship at Merion GC as Phil Mickelson falters down the stretch yet again to finish as the runner-up in the Major that he covets the most, for a record, sixth time.
9. 14 year old Chinese prodigy, Guan Tianlang made the cut at The Masters. Guan did this despite having been assessed a two shot penalty for slow play in the second round (it was at best a very questionable ruling).
8. Inbee Park won the first three Major Championships of the year on the LPGA Tour. Park won the Kraft Nabisco, the US Women’s Open, and the LPGA Championship before running out of steam at the Women’s British Open. The South Korean superstar would win 6 events in total on the year and capture her first “Player of the Year” award on the LPGA Tour.
7. “Dufnering” became a household word. 36 year old Jason Dufner, with his the mop-head hair and many waggled swing broke through to win the PGA Championship and therefore put “Dufnering” into a new stratosphere.
6. Steve Stricker had decided to play a much reduced schedule on the Tour. The 46 year old part-timer managed to play in 13 events and record an amazing 4 Runner-Up finishes and 8 Top Ten’s in those 13 tournaments. Stricker also qualified for the Tour Championship and played on the US President’s Cup team, while finishing the year as the 8th ranked player in the world.
5. The remarkable comeback to world prominence of Henrik Stenson. There was no better player in the world in the second half of 2013 as the fiery Swede captured both the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour and the European Tour’s, Race to Dubai. Stenson had such a good year that his caddie, Gareth Lord, bought a Ferrari.
4. 20 year old sensation, Jordan Speith, began 2013 with no status on any Tour (he was actually just 19 for most of the year). By Monday qualifying and early season Top 10’s (if you finish in the Top 10 in an event you are eligible to play the next week), Speith became the Tour’s youngest “Rookie of the Year”, a member of the 2013 US President’s Cup team, and claimed his first PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic.
3. Tiger Woods wins 5 PGA Tour events. For any other player that would be remembered as a landmark achievement, but because it is Woods and none of the 5 wins were in a Major it becomes, ho hum. In doing so, Woods won his record 11th PGA Tour “Player of the Year” award and the Vardon Trophy (given to the player with the lowest scoring average on the year which would have been won by the aforementioned Stricker, who failed to qualify for the honor because he didn’t play enough rounds).
2. Phil Mickelson’s win at the British Open was a victory for the ages. This was the one Major that most people thought Lefty would never win. It was most especially a surprise after his latest disappointment in the US Open the month before. Mickelson’s final round charge was one they will be talking about for many years, as he birdied four of the last six holes at Muirfield on his way to a closing round of 5-under par, 66. It is Mickelson’s 5th Major Championship to go along with his three Green Jackets and his PGA Championship. Noticeably absent from that collection is the US Open which will be played at Pinehurst next year where Phil the Thrill lost on the 72nd hole in 1999 to Payne Stewart for the first of his six bridesmaid finishes in our National Championship. Stay tuned.
1. And the winner of the most memorable moment in 2013 is………Adam Scott. In winning the Masters, Scott didn’t just get a monkey off his back, he removed a giant gorilla off the back of a whole continent. Until Scott’s playoff win over Angel Cabrera, no Australian had ever won the game’s most celebrated Major Championship. It is a list that includes Von Nida, Thompson, Nagle, Crampton, Devlin, Newton and most famously of all, Norman. Additionally it cast away the recent demons that Scott had of his own, after squandering a four shot lead with four holes to play in the 2012 Open Championship. Most consider the 33 year old Scott to have the finest swing in golf and to be one of the game’s really nice people, so it was a victory cheered all around the world, but most loudly Down Under