Martin’s 2017 Review

Bummer of the Year: Tiger Woods
In September on the eve of the Presidents Cup the almost 42-year-old admitted his career might be over. Four lots of knee surgery and four back operations in 18 months, with no tournament appearances between February and November all signposted that one of the great golf careers may be a thing of the past.

tiger woods

Reason to be Cheerful of the Year: Tiger Woods
He’s back. Making his much-heralded return in the Hero World Challenge was enough. That he played four rounds and hit some great shots, pain free, was all that he and we could hope for. More worryingly, everyone commented that he had his old swing speed and was generating a lot of torque but that’s what caused his problems in the first place. Nevertheless, good to see the old boy back in harness

Almost Bummer of the Year: Paul Casey
Sadly, 2017 continued a worrying trend. He went into the last round of the Tour Championship leading by two, shot 73 and finished 5th. He had nine top-10 finishes in 2017 but in five of them his last round score was the worst of the week and his only US Tour win was eight years ago. Perhaps he is consoled by his $21,982,360 career winnings in America

Overlooked Winner of the Year: Xander Shauffele
The magnificently named golfer won the Tour Championship, the finale to the US season but hardly anyone noticed because Justin Thomas did enough to win the FedEx Cup

Xander Shauffele

Lightning Start to the Year: Justin Thomas
In only his third season the 24-year-old showed he is no flash in the pan. Three wins in the first five events and five overall, including the dollar bonanza of lifting the FedEx Cup, with icing on the cake coming at the US PGA Championship. It all makes him a short-odds favourite to win at least one more major in 2018

Player of the Year (worldwide): Justin Thomas
See above

Player of the Year (Europe): Jon Rahm
Tommy Fleetwood won the Race to Dubai but that’s because Rahm played much of the year in America but still finished third in the season long European race and won twice. Leaving aside the majors and WGC events, Fleetwood played 15 events on the European Tour, Rahm played five but won in America and finished the year ranked fourth in the world (Tommy was 19th). Oh, and Jon Rahm was in his rookie season

Unequal Contest of the Year: The Presidents Cup
It has been unbalanced and one-sided for the last seven contests, and for 10 of the 12 times it has been held (the International team has managed one tie and one victory since 1994). The Americans like it because they can win with almost contemptuous ease. No-one else cares

Crash-and-Burn of the Year: Dustin Johnson
In the WGC-HSBC Champions at the end of October, Justin went into the last day in Shanghai with a six-stroke lead. He shot 77, 10 strokes worse than Justin Rose who came up on the rails to snatch the title. Johnson has form, of course, and no lead seems big enough to let us ever imagine he will cruise to victory

Unpronounceable Liar of the Year: Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov
At the opening of a new course in his native Turkmenistan, president Berdymukhamedov is supposedly filmed making an ace at a 75 metre hole. But the accompanying film suggests a) the president has rarely if ever held a golf club before; b) he needed a driver to cover 75 metres and c) his ball went nowhere near the hole.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

Major of the Year: The Masters
Brooks Koepka was imperious in the US Open; Justin Thomas was rightly crowned as US PGA champion and, although Jordan Spieth was astonishing in The Open Championship, anyone with a heart had to be delighted to see Sergio Garcia finally get a major after all those years and near misses. Especially at Augusta National where the putting stroke is the part of the game most severely tested. Lee Westwood next year? (only joking)

Daftest Rules Decision of the Year: The Presidents Cup
Day three and Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day are playing Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. They’re on the 12th hole, a driveable par four and Day has holed out for birdie so his partner Oosthuizen putts from just off the green to see if he can make eagle. When his ball travels well past the hole, and therefore becomes irrelevant in the context of the match, Jordan Spieth stops it rolling, picks it up and tosses it to Ooosthuizen. However, because Rule 1-2 says, in part ‘A player must not (1) take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play…’ Spieth and Reed were hit with a loss of hole penalty, despite both of them having putts for a half. Complete nonsense

Comeback of the Year: Justin Rose
At the fag end of 2017 he was facing a winless year, having had the agony of missing at the Masters by a fraction. He won two of his last three tournaments and came damned close to making it three and toppling Tommy Fleetwood at the head of the Race to Dubai

Hole of the Year: 13th at Royal Birkdale
Rarely can a major have been won by such considered thought under remorseless pressure. Having hit his drive wildly off-line, Jordan Spieth coolly assessed his options, had the imagination to select the one that caused least damage by dropping under penalty on the practice range and then, having made the most unlikely of bogies, play the last few holes in a hatful under par.

Suck it Up of the Year: Matt Kuchar
You play a pretty flawless Open Championship, including 69 on the final day. With five holes to play you take the lead as your only real rival, Jordan Spieth, makes bogey after an horrific tee shot. You then watch him shoot birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie to snatch the claret jug and break your heart. Pro sport can be tough; pro golf can be a killer

Who He? of the Year: Jordan Smith
In his rookie season the 25-year-old Englishman won the Porsche European Open, finished 24th in the Race to Dubai and climbed well inside the world’s top-100 while very few noticed. His €1,290,602 winnings should help lessen the pain of his comparative anonymity

Worst Back Nine of the Year: Justin Rose
Having done almost everything he needed to win the season finale event and pip Tommy Fleetwood to the Race to Dubai – going to the turn in four-under par and leading the DP World Championship by a stroke – Justin Rose, the strongest of front-runners, lost his game when he needed it most. His approach at the 14th was pulled into water and then a horrific missed three-foot putt two holes later sealed the deal

Biggest Miss of the Year: Lexi Thompson
The American faced her final stroke on the final green of the final tournament of the year on the LPGA Tour. It was a two-foot putt to clinch the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship and if she holed it she would pick up a cheque for $50,000 and go to number one in the world rankings and top of the LPGA money list. You can guess the rest – and playing behind, Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the last two holes to snatch victory

Lexi Thompson

Basketcase of the Year: Ladies European Tour
To say that women’s golf in Europe has problems is a massive under-statement. It lost five tournaments from an already depleted schedule, which saw yet another chief executive hit the road. Rumour is that the men’s European Tour might step in but something needs to happen quickly

Innovation of the Year: The Rolex Series
Eight events scattered throughout the European Tour season, each with a guaranteed minimum prize fund of $7 million. The first four events had stronger fields than the comparative tournament on the PGA Tour and Keith Pelley, European Tour chief executive responsible, deserves credit. As he pointed out, in 2016 the man who finished 100th on the money list took home €275,551; this year that figure was €389,829

Fall of the Year: Adam Scott
Ranked 7th in the world at the start of 2017, he was 31st by the end and sinking like a stone; his first time outside the top-30 in seven years. Six top-10s in America and best finish of tied 6th (The Players’) is beginning to look like serial under-achievement, despite the likeable Aussie being a money-making machine

Woman Player of the Year: So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park
Just about impossible to separate, so I won’t try. Both won twice, one of which was a major and while Park topped the money list, Ryu was a near second.

One response to “Martin’s 2017 Review

  1. Womens golf is dying anyway, unless you like watching automatons play.
    Take a look at the top 10. Golf is a game of emotions, if you don’t have any it becomes boring. Nuff said.

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