Vousden’s year, Part 1

It has been an unusually turbulent year – so much so that our annual review has had to be lengthened – part two is next month.

Hypocrite of The Year: Jon Rahm
No need to list the many, many times he has pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour and Ryder Cup, or itemise his frequent protestations that he already has more than enough money. He’s also waxed eloquent about having no desire to play limited field, no-cut tournaments that don’t mean anything. All of it amounted to a pile of horse dung when a big enough cheque from LIV Golf was waved under his nose.

Disappointment of The Year: Rory McIlroy
A staunch opponent of LIV Golf and those who defect to it, he has rightly argued strongly that it is correct that they should forfeit their right to compete in the Ryder Cup. But then he completes an about turn to suggest the rules of eligibility should be re-written to allow Rahm to remain in team Europe. The point about principles is that you stick to them.

Yobs of The Year: Environmental Protestors
They tried to disrupt both The Open Championship and the AIG Women’s Open and at the latter, Charlie Hull’s caddy described them, not inaccurately, as ‘morons.’ One would imagine that the purpose of making protests such as this is to win hearts and minds and convert people to your point of view. They’re doing exactly the opposite.

Fan-Friendly Gesture of The Year: Jordan Spieth
After hitting his tee shot on the 16th hole in the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Jordan unwrapped a sandwich (peanut butter and banana, as you ask). A fan made a comment about getting a snack and Jordan said: ‘Do you want half?’ Before giving him exactly that.

Duracell Bunny Award: Bernhard Langer
Traditionally, pro golfers join the senior ranks aged 50, win for two or three years and then have the grace to slide into comparative obscurity, but not Herr Langer. Aged 65 he passed Hale Irwin’s record number of victories for the round bellies, notching up number 46. In the process he won the US Senior Open title again, 12 years after his first triumph.

Men’s Major of The Year: US Open
Wyndham Clark won the Wells Fargo Championship a month before but no-one rated his chances. After 14 holes in the final-round he led by three but that slipped away and he needed to par the last to secure the win, which he did by two-putting from 60 feet. Gutsy. Oh, and both Rickie Fowler and Xander Shauffele shot 62 during the week, establishing a new record for the event.

Women’s Major of The Year: Chevron Championship
Lilia Vu had only won once in her short professional career but showed calm maturity to birdie the last two holes to force a playoff with Angela Yin. She then birdied the first extra hole to seal the deal. Four months later she cruised to victory in the last women’s major of the season, the AIG Women’s Open. She’s got some game but most importantly, the temperament to match.

Shock of The Year: Ludvig Aberg
By the first week of September, the 23-year-old Swede had been a pro golfer for less than 80 days, and played in only nine events but won one, the European Masters. Controversially, European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald selected him as a wild card pick for the biennial contest. It didn’t look like a bad call as he won two, lost two in the event itself. And then he won on the PGA Tour, shooting a pair of 61s at the weekend of the RSM Classic.

Classiest Act of The Year: Adrian Meronk
Having missed out on automatic Ryder Cup selection by just 170 points, the big-hitting Pole must have thought he’d done enough to justify a captain’s wild-card pick but that went instead to Shane Lowry, who had had a far worse season. Meronk’s response – to immediately wish team Europe the best of luck, speaks volumes for his character.

Most Surprising Record of The Year: LPGA Tour
In September Ruoning Yin of China reached No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. It meant she was the fifth golfer to become a new world No.1 in the same year.
She followed Lilia Vu, Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko and Lydia Ko to that vaulted position. She didn’t stay long, however, as later in the season she was supplanted by Lilia Vu.

Drubbing of The Year: Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler
The American duo paired up for the Ryder Cup, Saturday foursomes against Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg. They lost 9&7, the biggest pasting in the competition’s history. In Koepka’s case, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellow.

Self-deluded Golfer of The Year: Carlota Ciganda
In the final round of the Evian Championship, she was given a two-stroke penalty on the last hole for taking too long over a putt. She refused to accept the penalty and signed her scorecard for what was now an incorrect total and was disqualified. Her reaction has been outraged disbelief. In truth, Carlota is one of the most tedious, slow, deliberate, dawdling and sluggish golfers on any tour.

Shot of The Year: Carlota Ciganda
Solheim Cup singles, penultimate match, 17th hole – a par three with the hole cut tight over a bunker, so almost everyone played to the right for safety. The whole competition was up for grabs so Carlota hit a stunning 9-iron to kick-in birdie distance and in the process, ensured Europe retained the trophy. It was almost enough to forgive her glacial pace of play.

Most maddening Pre-shot Routine: Charley Hull and Brian Harman
Both address the ball and then look to their target anything up to 13 times – and trust me, I’ve counted. It’s a problem for them, fellow competitors and spectators and when you have a problem, you seek a solution. Or at least, you should.

Unnecessary Spat of The Year: Rory McIlroy
Having taken exception to caddy Joe Lacava’s hat-waving celebrations at the end of day two of the Ryder Cup, Rory McIlroy effectively told Joe where to go (although the caddy did not, as was reported, step on McIlroy’s line). Fair enough. But then later, in the car park after he should have cooled down, McIlroy then launched into innocent bystander Bones Mackay, who caddied for Cantlay’s partner, Wyndham Clark. Childish.

Team Competition of The Year: Solheim Cup
Yes, the Ryder Cup was a cracker (if you support Europe) but after a stunning performance over the first two days, the result was never really in doubt. The Solheim, by contrast, was nip-and-tuck for three days and looked destined to head to America until Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Hedwall’s stunning performances at the end of the singles.

Spare a Thought Award: Daniel Van Tonder
The top-116 in the DP World Tour Race to Dubai (money list) retain their tour cards for next season, so the worst place to finish is in 117th. The South African who ended an agonising one place shy will now have to re-set and go again.

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