Nov
27
2011
5* Things I’m Thankful For in Golf, 2011 Edition
By Stephanie Wei under Life on Tour

First of all, I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and I’ll bet it was better than mine, where I spent keeling over in pain Thursday afternoon and then the rest of the weekend lying in bed (I was disappointed I didn’t really get to eat my favorite meal of the year), but thankfully, I’ve recovered (finally).

Earlier this week our editors asked the SI Golf Group for submissions to the annual “What We’re Thankful For” gallery.  Well, I’d just been chatting with Steve Elkington, so first thing that came to mind was Elk’s funny tweets and cartoons, so I replied “I’m thankful Elk joined Twitter.” 

When an editor asked me if we could use one of his old ‘toons for the gallery, Elk had a better idea — he was kind enough to create a custom one (as seen above). Some of you may have already seen it over at Golf.com. I’m still not sure whether to laugh or cry at the result. Maybe both?

I have many reasons to be very thankful this year, but to keep this post from becoming a 5,000-word dissertation, I’ll limit it to five (with some asterisks). Here we go!

5. Covering 27 events in 2011 as my official “rookie” year (and living to tell about it), starting with the unofficial fifth major for some of us –the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, with my dear friend and host, Gary Planos (it really did go down from there in terms of accommodations, etc.). Another highlight was my first trip to the Masters and being right in middle of the exciting action early in the day, witnessing Charl Schwartzel’s hole-out on No. 3, Rory McIlroy’s shaky start, Tiger Woods’ eagle putt on No. 8, etc. I can’t forget to mention my favorite tournament of the year — the Open Championship — which turned into a memorable and fun adventure as it was the year before.

4. Yani Tseng. The girl separated herself from the rest of the pack and downright dominated this year. She became the youngest player to win four majors after she captured the LPGA Championship, and then she went on to defend her title at the Women’s British Open, so she’s also the youngest to win five. The 22-year-old from Taiwan notched 11 wins worldwide, including seven on the LPGA — two of which were majors. And she remains a sweet, funny, and humble young lady. It’s too bad she doesn’t get as much recognition as she deserves in the States. FYI, SHE DOES SPEAK ENGLISH, quite well, in fact.

3. Rory McIlroy. From his Masters meltdown to his dominating victory at the U.S. Open, McIlroy’s humility, grace and determination inspired us all. Plus, he’s also a nice kid! I’ll never forget Rory-mania at the Open at RSG, where the hordes swarmed him. Only time I’d ever seen anything like it is with Tiger. Oh, and then there’s his romantic life. Shortly after winning at Congressional, Rory broke up with longtime girlfriend Holly Sweeney and started dating the world’s No. 1 tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki.

2. Tiger Woods. Without Tiger, I would have a lot less readership. Even though he’s dropped to outside the top 50 in the world, anything Tiger-related manages to provide endless drama and controversy, particularly the incidents that materialized after he fired his former caddie and pal, Steve Williams. I will never forget my front-row seat to the 18th-green interview after his “greatest win ever,” and then the ensuing media scrum in the scoring area, where Stevie continued to vomit his emotions and opinions, demonstrating what happens when you haven’t been allowed to speak for over 12 years. Wait, so maybe I should thank Stevie? Well, it was triggered with Tiger’s actions.

1. Everyone who helps me keep WUP running. Which means all of you guys — as in the readers, supporters and even haters! — who take the time to read my ramblings and even comment. The best part about a blog-type of website is the discussion and community it creates. (I know I need to crack down more on some of the hate-spewing. Please be respectful of others. Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.)

*I don’t know what I’d do without my small but indispensable support staff and contributors — Conor, along with several interns. Now that Intern Kevin (who will always be Intern Kevin and be a part of WUP–they even call him that at his new job) has moved on to brighter pastures by taking a job at Golf Channel’s Morning Drive (everyone say yay for Kev…he started about a month ago), Shoshana, who is like a human Google, has been appointed as our new intern.

*My amazing mentors who have given me indelible advice and sometimes tough love, along with the SI Golf Group and WSJ. Thanks for taking the time to help a newbie. An even big thanks to those colleagues who have stood up for me against the…I guess, haters (naysayers, etc.). It’s amazingly sad how some people judge others and come to conclusions about them when they’ve never had a conversation with them or actually know the first thing about them. What’s more amazing are the creative rumors that get back to me — it’s like, what is this a sorority house? Dude, you’re 60 and picking on a young  woman? Really? /end rant before I really get started.

*The players, caddies, instructors, trainers and everyone on Tour that has been kind and helpful.

*A special shout-out to the LPGA. Unfortunately I only went to one event, the season-ending CME Group Titleholders, this year, but I promise to plan better and attend more in 2012. From the media room officials to the players to the commish, it’s a very pleasant atmosphere.

*Oh, and of course, I’m thankful Steve Elkington joined Twitter, along with Andres Gonzales. I’m thankful for Twitter in general (and all the people I follow and those that follow me) — I mean, what did we do before Twitter?? How did we get our news? A lot slower than we do now.

*I almost forgot another special shout-out. This time to the PGA Tour class of 2011. It’s hard to explain and for sake of brevity, I won’t get too much into it. But it was basically my rookie year or first full year out on tour, and I was seeing most of the courses and venues for the first time and trying to get a feel for them and find my way around, etc., as well.

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2011 was a really exciting and game-changing year in the world of golf. We’ll review all that in December. Oh, you know what I’m extremely thankful for? Only 32 days ’til I’m sunning myself on the beach at Kapalua.