Because everyone does some type of end-of-the-year tribute, I felt inclined to partake. Dogs That Chase Cars’ Shane Bacon and I came up with thirteen categories and we each weighed in on the winners (or losers) that we felt captured a number of key moments in 2009. Shane is suffering from an Internet outage today, so look for his post (and my update with a link to it) over the weekend. For now, here are mine: Click here for Shane’s.
Most Absurd Whine
Sergio Garcia complaining about Augusta National. After he closed The Masters with a 74-75 on the weekend, he grumbled that the course isn’t “fair” and “too tricky” and “even when it’s dry, you get mud balls in the fairway.” Classy! Curiously enough, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington conveniently mentioned the setup was “as easy as it’s ever going to be.” No, it’s not fair for Serg — he got to play in The Masters (and still take home a decent-size check) when thousands of others would happily take his spot. But I guess it was only natural to take out his frustration by denigrating one of the most iconic courses in the world. At least he apologized two days later — if you count his handlers releasing a statement he didn’t write as a formal apology.
While I loved Y.E. Yang’s victorious bag lift after taking down Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship, I can’t ignore the spirited enthusiasm demonstrated by the multiple ladies of the LPGA. First, Brittany Lincicome’s triumphant dive into the lake on the 18th hole at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Then, Christina Kim led the cheerleading efforts for the US Solheim Cup Team with animated fist-pumps and cheers on the way to beating out the Europeans. Michelle Wie also broke out of her shell and helped rally the crowd. Although many were quick to bash emotionless Asian-born players, we can’t ignore how many more ladies consistently showed off their great energy and personalities.
Biggest Choke Job
Kenny Perry’s collapse at The Masters. Only two holes separated the 48-year-old from the Green Jacket, his first major title and becoming the oldest player in history to win a major. It would have been one of the greatest Cinderella stories in history. Unfortunately, Perry bogeyed the final two holes and ultimately lost in a three-way playoff to Angel Cabrera. Perry’s post-choke interview made it even more heart-wrenching. At least he’s a graceful bridesmaid.
Best Clutch Performance
Y.E. Yang’s final six holes at the PGA Championship to shatter Tiger’s pristine record of closing a major after holding a 54-hole lead. Yang gained the momentum on the 13th hole when he saved par from the greenside bunker and Tiger flubbed a makable birdie putt. Or perhaps the turning point was Yang’s chip-in on the 14th. But the most jaw-dropping shot of the year (for that matter, on the final hole at a major in recent history) was the 3-hybrid he hit on his approach into the 72nd hole. Perhaps even more impressively, he never cowered in the face of The Tiger Woods’ Menacing Sunday Stare-Down.
There’s the whole Tiger Woods post-Thanksgiving “car accident,” but another Tiger-related one comes to mind: Fart-Gate. While Tiger was waiting in the 18th fairway in the final round of the Buick Open, a loud, dissonant noise that appeared to be a person passing gas was aired on the telecast. Following a viral YouTube video of Tiger chuckling and mumbling, “Are you serious?” many concluded Tiger had farted — even though it clearly came from someone in the gallery. Logically, the PGA Tour and CBS got lawyers involved and ordered YouTube to take it down, citing “copyright reasons.” Translation: Preventing Tiger, the Tour, CBS and the culprit from embarrassment. As it turned out, wacky CBS commentator David Feherty had used his iPhone to make the fart noise. Apparently he and Tiger have an ongoing contest involving these types of pranks. Well played, Feherty.
Biggest Girl Problems
Adam Scott, who missed 10 cuts in 19 starts on the PGA Tour, including nine in a row. In July 2008 Scott was the world’s number three ranked player. His poor play in 2009 dropped him to 76th at one point. Many speculated girl problems were the primary cause for his case of the suckies. Scott broke up with his longtime girlfriend in 2008 and then in January it was rumored he was dating Kate Hudson after the two were spotted frolicking on the beach in Hawaii. But she broke his heart when she dumped him for A-Rod. Then, he allegedly skipped playing the AT&T National to watch tennis star girlfriend Ana Ivanovic compete in Wimbledon. Even Retief Goosen explained to Golf Magazine, “Scotty’s still young and he has a lot of hot chicks on his mind.” But things appear to be improving for Scott — after a few strong showings on the Australian Tour near the year-end, including a win, he’s climbed back up to 34th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Best Feel-Good Moment
Michelle Wie, The Player Deigned to Save the LPGA Tour (and perhaps the PGA Tour now, too), securing her first win on the LPGA and as a professional at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. After she drained the final putt, she did a charmingly awkward victory dance, and nothing beats the photos of her with her arms wrapped tightly around the trophy. When she starting wowing the world with her fluid swing and monster drives at age 12, the over-hype rapidly followed, and when she failed to meet the enormous expectations, the heavy criticism swiftly ensued — all of which just makes the victory that much sweeter.
Greg Norman, who split with Chris Evert, only after forcing the world to watch their very public 15-month make-out session. For every day he was married to her, it cost him $226,000 in the divorce settlement with ex-wife Laura Andrassy. Norman’s dubious decision-making also propelled him to use one of his captain’s picks on the slumping Adam Scott for the Presidents Cup. The International Team lost (Scott finished with a 1-4-0 record) and captain Norman didn’t have Chrissie with him to hold his hand and console him. Sad.
Best Tiger Temper Tantrum
The first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship when he hurled his driver after an errant tee shot and it took about four hops before landing 20 yards away in the fescue — whereupon Stevie Williams took a good 30 seconds to dig it out.
Least Interesting Golfer
Ernie Els, who failed to carry out his three-year plan to regain his throne as the world’s number-one golfer. When Tiger was asked for his opinion, he blamed the Big Easy’s defeat on his lack of commitment to physically recovering from his 2005 knee surgery. In other words, he called Ernie fat and lazy.
Ian Poulter vs. antagonistic Twitter followers. Poults is a devoted, entertaining tweeter. But on several occasions, perhaps a level-headed adult should have taken his iPhone away from him before he declared Twitter war with rabble-rousers. Poor @RTOAD and @sluthman.
Favorite Tiger Mistress
Jamie Jungers. Because Tiger broke her heart, forcing her to spill her guts to the world on Dateline. And her aunt, who boasts the same fame-hungry DNA, claimed her niece took naked photos of Tiger — ones I hope will never surface.
The Tom Watson Award
Because he put on a performance of a lifetime at the British Open, he deserves his own category. Watson’s run at the Claret Jug was the most memorable golfing moment of my lifetime. Watching the 59-year-old crumble in the playoff against Stewart Cink was pure agony. I mourned Watson’s loss for weeks. But I’ll never forget the heroics he demonstrated with his play and class. I’ll always remember the image of him walking up the 18th hole and waving his hat to the gallery while he held back tears. Thank you for inspiring us, Mr. Watson.
Now, share your thoughts and let’s get ready for more great moments in 2010. The PGA Tour kicks off its season next week with the SBS Championship in Hawaii.
Happy New Year! Thanks to all for your support in the first year of this little blog.