Vousden’s year, Part 2

Concluding our look back to a tumultuous 2013

Man You Love to Hate: Patrick Cantlay
He plays slower than Carlota Ciganda, refused to wear a cap in the Ryder Cup but denies it was a protest at not being paid (which nobody believes) and isn’t much liked by Rory McIlroy or, it seems, a lot of golf fans. But he can play and in his Saturday afternoon fourball match when he and Wyndham Clark faced McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, he holed must-make putts on the last three holes to earn a one-up victory. He might not be your favourite golfer but by heaven you’d want him on your team.

Biggest Storm in a Teacup: Numerous pros
Who spouted errant nonsense about the proposal to rein back the golf ball by up to 15 yards, predicting that it would end golf as we know it. Sometimes they need to step outside their cosseted bubble. We now learn that the average tour pro will lose about nine yards, while recreational golfers will lose about four. Hardly going to change the face of golf.

Most Heartwarming Story: Michael Block
The club teaching pro enjoyed a fabulous US PGA Championship, finishing tied 15th when most of his club pro contemporaries struggle to make the cut. His fairytale week assumed DisneyWorld proportions when he scored a hole-in-one in the final round.

Biggest Surprise: PGA and DP World Tours merge with LIV Golf
No-one saw it coming but it was almost inevitable. The existing tours were in danger of bankrupting themselves by trying to compete with the $85 billion Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, in turn, would do anything to avoid opening their financial records to the US justice system, which they would have to do if various legal actions had made their way to court.

Mr Consistency Award: Scottie Scheffler
Who looked as if he would win every time he teed up. By the first week of June he had won $16.3 million and his results included: two wins, one of which was the Players Championship; two seconds, including the PGA Championship; two thirds; three fourths and a fifth. By mid-June he was averaging winnings of $1 million per tournament. Just imagine if he could putt.

Biggest Enigma Award: Rory McIlroy
Who continues to impress and frustrate in equal measure; playing like Tiger and then, in at least one round in four, finding his putter has gone ice-cold.

Outstanding Debut: Rose Zhang
She won her first event as a professional and a week later challenged for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, a woman’s major, finishing tied 8th, three behind winner Ruoning Yin. If that’s not enough, she then finished tied 9th at the US Women’s Open.

Biggest comeback: Jason Day
Five long years, and many physical and emotional traumas after his last win, the popular Aussie enjoyed a wire-to-wire win at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship. He had endured numerous back injuries causing a woeful drop in form, and his mother’s gruelling battle with the cancer that eventually killed her.

Best Finish: Aaron Rai
At the Players Championship, Sawgrass, Rai finished 3-1-3 and became the first man (and quite possibly the last) to play the final three holes in four under par.

Oddest Playoff: Rocket Mortgage Classic
Three players were in contention. Collin Morikawa hadn’t won in three years; Rickie Fowler was winless for four years and Adam Hadwin’s only PGA Tour victory was seven years earlier. To the delight of many, Fowler birdied the first playoff hole to grab the honours.

Most Controversial Hole: Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) 17th
At 136-yards, Little Eye, as it was known, shouldn’t cause the top pros too many problems but it did. It was a case of hit the green or face double-bogey or worse. The club’s members hate the thing and it was due to be bulldozered once The Open left town. Don’t tell that to Travis Smyth – he aced it.

Cheeky Sibling Award: Alex Fitzpatrick.
He had only been a pro for just over a year when he got into The Open at Royal Liverpool, alongside his brother Matt, winner of the 2022 US Open. Alex finished tied 17th, four strokes better than his brother, and picked up just over $206,000. His previous best payday was a little more than €40,000.

Most Impressive Performance: Brian Harman
In winning the Open Championship in often brutal conditions he almost lapped the field with a six-stroke victory. Not the longest but arrow-straight and with a putting stroke that Ben Crenshaw would envy, he gave hope to short-hitters everywhere.

Idiot of The Year: Anonymous Heckler
As the eventual champion walked to the tee, having just made his second bogey early in the final round, an idiot in the gallery said: ‘Harman, you don’t have the stones for this.’ Not only was he spectacularly ill-mannered, he was even more spectacularly wrong.

Round of The Year: Bryson DeChambeau
On a par-70 course of 7,255-yards at the Greenbriar, Bryson shot an impressive 61 on Saturday, to sit at 23-under par for three rounds. But that paled into nothing on the last day when he became the first LIV golfer to break 60, and he did it by two, shooting 58. He started the day with seven consecutive threes, only one of which was a par, and made 13 birdies in total. That’s out of 18 holes, lest you forget.

Most Popular Win of The Year: Celine Boutier
The fourth women’s major of the season, the Amundi Evian Championship, staged at Évian-les-Bains, was won for the first time by a French woman. Not only was it Celine Boutier’s first major but she did it in front of a delightedly vociferous home crowd. She started the last day with a three-stroke lead, made three birdies in the first four holes and never looked threatened, eventually winning by six.

Player of The Year: Lilia Vu
Four wins, two of which are majors, and she leapfrogged into the world number one spot (for a short while, anyway). No contest.

Runner-Up of The Year: Charley Hull
Probably not the title she would have hoped for but four second place finishes in the season, two of which were in majors (the US Women’s and AIG Women’s Opens) leave little room for argument. As Tom Watson said: ‘You learn to win through not liking to lose.’ Charley is learning fast.

Heroes of the Year: Jack Nicklaus, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods
They were among the few voices of reason and sanity when it was confirmed that the golf ball will be rolled back – by the minimum amount needed. Almost everyone else in the pro ranks squealed asinine rubbish, with little concern for the wider good of the game.

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