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Golf Australia Express : Issue 20
By Sam Gole VIEW THE WE SAW it all this season. Great shots, dramatic and emphatic wins, implosions, controversy and let’s not forget plenty of colourful moments, too. It’s been a memorable year. Remember the entertaining ‘Golf Boys’ video featuring funnyman Ben Crane, big-hitting Bubba Watson, young gun Rickie Fowler and cool Hunter Mahan? They might not have the moves or vocals, but laughing at themselves gave us a much-need chuckle, too. On the performance front with the men, none was more remarkable than Luke Donald. Mr Consistency created history by winning both the European and PGA tours’ money lists. In securing the PGA money list, the world No.1 fired a phenomenal final round 64, which included six consecutive birdies on the back nine at the Walt Disney Golf Resort. He overran the field to win the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic along the way—a fairytale ending to a breakout year for the 34-year-old Pom. And on dreams coming true, how inspiring were the efforts of golf’s four first-time major winners? Charl Schwartzel stormed home with four straight birdies to claim the Masters in April. At the same event Rory McIlroy blew his chances with a soul-destroying 43 in nine holes coming home. Two months later the 22-year-old bounced back to win the US Open by an incredible eight shots. We’ll be seeing plenty more from him in 2012. Darren Clarke’s 20-year pursuit of the caret jug paid off when the crowd favourite won the British Open in July. Then from a veteran to a rookie at glory’s last shot—the PGA Championship—where 25-year-old Keegan Bradley took home the Kevin Bacon. Webb Simpson’s was arguably the biggest improver, with a year that included two PGA wins, a Presidents Cup berth and more than $6.3 million in prizemoney. The 26-year- old weaved his way up the world rankings from No. 213 to No.10. Fellow American Bill Haas, 29, played one of the clutchiest shots in history on the way to winning the TOUR Championship. That win also won him the FedEx Cup and a handy $10 million bonus. And wasn’t it great to see Sergio Garcia find his mojo again and win twice late on the European Tour? And that was just the fellas. In the women’s game two champions stood out like beacons. World No.1 Yani Tseng was the hottest thing in golf all year. The Taiwanese superstar won 11 times worldwide, including two majors. Her win at the Women’s British Open made her the youngest player to win five major championships. The other bright star was Lexi Thompson. Amazingly, the 16-year-old won twice this season—the LPGA Tour’s Navistar Classic in September and the LET’s Dubai Ladies Masters last week. It’s no wonder Thompson is set to become the next big thing in women’s golf. Oh, and don’t forget Tiger (as if we could). For the most part, injuries and poor form clouded his year. But on December 4 the Striped One put the golf world back on notice, winning the Chevron World Challenge in his trademark manner (see left). Looking ahead to 2012, I can’t help but wonder if the likes of the ‘Gen Nows’—McIlroy, Day and Fowler—get their wish to take on an in-form Tiger? We can only hope to see the Old Cat toying with golf’s Young Cubs. Please! OTG TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS: email@example.com REMEMBERING ’11 As a fascinating year of golf comes to an end, Sam Gole looks at some key players and moments sure to linger in our minds for years.