As the year ends (only a few hours left!–and Happy New Year, Australia), we’re wracking our brains for some of the most memorable and (un)forgettable moments of 2012. We’re going to do things a little different than 2011, and I might supplement this post with others in the first days of 2013 (people didn’t seem to mind the delay last time).
At the start of the season, I decided to go nuts and try to cover (in person) as many tournaments as possible–which, as I discovered, was crazy and I overdid it. The final tally was 33 or 34 events, if you count qualifiers. It was definitely a year to remember and I feel very lucky that I had a front-row seat to many incredible wins, not to mention just as many heartbreaking upsets. There are the obvious “best shots” or “hug-me-now” moments, but we’re also going to share some from behind-the-scenes and perhaps less mainstream, which deserve recognition.
Let’s start this by reviewing eight of the most memorable shots.
Since Hawaii is five hours behind the east coast, there are probably about two people on the internet right now, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet. It’s also tough to focus when this is your office for the day and you’re technically still on vacation, but I feel like I’ve been slacking this off-season. The golfers, reps and other familiar faces are almost all in town by now, and THEY KEEP DISTRACTING ME.
8. Tommy Gainey, McGladrey Classic, Sea Island Golf Club, No. 15.
Because Two Gloves deserves some love. An excerpt from the post I wrote after his inspiring win:
Tommy’s victory was a win for the guys grinding it out on the mini tours and Web.com Tour, especially for the 30-something players who sometimes need a little boost or hope. It’s a reminder that the improbable is possible; that the different or unorthodox isn’t wrong; that the ability to embrace your own individuality is powerful; and that self-belief and determination pay off.
Ah, it was sweet to get that monkey off his back!
6. The Jungle Bird hijacking Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open trophy ceremony (and USGA boss Mike Davis’ tackle).
5. Tiger Woods, The Memorial Tournament, Muirfield Village, No. 16.
I’ll never forget Tiger birdieing 3 of the last 4 holes to win, not to mention the roar when he holed that incredible flop shot — it was one of those moments where you remember exactly where you were standing and thinking, etc. when it happened. I was next to the walkway from 16 green to 17 tee. The roar was tremendous, and so was Tiger’s fist-pump, which I’m not sure I’d ever seen live in person.
You guys are probably wondering why I didn’t rank this as No. 1. Well, I wanted to be different than every other list you’ve seen. Don’t forget the aerial map that diagrams Bubba’s ridiculously sick, snap-hook shot.
3. Martin Kaymer, Ryder Cup, Sunday Singles, Medinah Country Club, No. 18.
Never underestimate the Germanator.
2. Justin Rose, Ryder Cup, Sunday Singles, Medinah Country Club, No. 17.
I camped out on the 17th and 18th holes on Sunday at Medinah and got to see just about every single shot or putt that counted in the miraculous comeback by the Europeans to win the Ryder Cup (again). The key shift in the momentum came from Rose’s victory over Phil Mickelson. Rose was 1-down to Mickelson heading into No. 17 and won the final two holes to give Europe a massive boost. As Rose was lining up to the 30-40 -footer for birdie on 17, I just had a feeling that it was going in. It was weird. I can’t explain it, but there was something special in the air that day, and it was an awesome moment and even better putt.
1. Rory McIlroy, the 2012 season (he hit so many that it’s hard to pick just one, but the long birdie putt he made at The Ocean Course to win by 8 at the PGA Championship was pretty cool).
And remember when he got up-and-down in the third round after his ball got stuck in the tree?
Stay tuned for more later in the week. I’m still on “holiday” until the 2nd or 3rd. Oh yeah, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m not sure it’s possible, but here’s to an even more exhilarating 2013.