As 2019 draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at the last 12 months of golf. Digging into the stories that made 2019 one of the most memorable years in the sport’s history. Take a look below and let us know if our choices match up to yours…
10. Bio Kim Suspension
In September the world of golf was left shocked after Bio Kim was handed a three-year ban by the Korea Professional Golfers’ Association after losing his temper at a tournament.
The 29-year-old was left fuming after a fan’s mobile phone camera shutter went off during his downswing. In anger Kim flipped the fan “the bird” before slamming his club into the ground. The golfer went on to win the event and apologised on TV afterwards for the outburst.
By alas, that didn’t seem enough, and a three-year ban was soon announced. Players from all over the world were shocked. Kevin Na stated, “You’re taking a man’s job for three years. Yes, he was unprofessional and there should be consequences for it, but don’t take a man’s job away for three years.”
Three weeks later, it was announced that the ban had been reduced to just one year. Still seems a bit steep to us. ♂
9. Inaugural Augusta Women’s Amateur
History was made in April when Augusta National staged the first Augusta Women’s Amateur at the famed Masters’ course. It was a huge success and an important achievement that 72 young female golfers won’t soon forget. With female members only being admitted to the club in 2012, the ANWA was another major breakthrough for not only women’s golf but also women’s sport.
The top-ranked amateur in the world, Jennifer Kupcho proved she had what it takes to tame Augusta, despite having a migraine so severe on the back-nine that she had blurry vision for three of the holes.
“I really think we’re going to start something great in women’s golf,” Kupcho told reporters afterwards. “It’s been an experience of a lifetime and I’m glad I have it.”
8. Slow Play Debate Rages on Tour
The discussion around slow play seems to have only grown louder in 2019. Most golfers can admit it’s an issue that affects every level of the game, but this year the pros seem to be more vocal than ever about it. Case-in-point was the “discussion” Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka had on the subject one Sunday morning at the Northern Trust. Back in August it was reported that DeChambeau asked to speak to Koepka through his caddie after feeling singled-out by the two-time PGA Championship winner.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, both players acknowledged the meeting and said it went well.
“Like I said, I mentioned his name once,” Koepka said. “So I don't think I've come at him. I just talked about slow play, and obviously he feels I'm talking about him every time.”
With DeChambeau adding, “He said a lot of things about slow play out in the public, and you guys have asked him that and he has the right to say things just as I do," DeChambeau said. "I have heard him talk about slow play before and he has mentioned my name before, and I just wanted to clear the air. Make sure that nothing was of any importance after, and he's got respect for me; I have respect for him. So no issues.”
The European Tour has since announced a new four-point plan to tackle the issue through regulation, education, innovation and field sizes. Keep your on this one next year!
7. Tyrell Hatton is distracted by familiar fan at Italian Open
During the second round of the Italian Open in October, England’s Tyrell Hatton was forced to stop mid-swing on the par-4 fourth hole after being disturbed by a sound off to the side of the hole. After taking a step back and looking in the direction of the noise, it soon became apparent the golfer was very familiar with the spectator coming out of the toilet. ♂️
6. Phil’s Calf Muscles
In February, a new change to the PGA Tour’s Player Appearance guidelines was announced. Just in time for the WGC – Mexico Championship and the Puerto Rico Open, players were now allowed to wear shorts during all practice and pro-am rounds. But perhaps the biggest talking point to come out of the change was Phil Mickelson and his “Adonis-like” calves. No we’re not joking…
Mickelson took to Twitter to help fans understand how they too could get calves like his.
5. Amy Bockerstette inspires U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland
Back in January, Special Olympian Amy Bockerstette was paired with Gary Woodland for the chance to play a practice hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The moment captured on the Par-3,16th hole quickly went viral. As Amy makes par, Woodland says, “You are so awesome.” Before adding, “you’re our hero.”
The 20-year-old continues to be an inspiration to many, including Woodland who went on to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June.
“I’ve had a lot of good memories in my life, but that’s one I’ll never forget,” Woodland said of that January day. “I’ve been blessed to do a lot of cool things on the golf course, but that is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
4. What a difference a year makes indeed for Shane Lowry…
Shane Lowry began the final round of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush with a four-stroke lead. Despite a possible threat from Tommy Fleetwood, the Irishman was able to keep focused, dominating the links to earn his first major title.
Afterwards, the 32-year-old reflected on golf’s sometimes erratic journey.
“Golf is a weird sport and you never know what’s around the corner,” Lowry told reporters back in July. “I sat in the car park in Carnoustie, almost a year ago right to this week, and I cried. Golf wasn’t my friend at the time. It was something that become very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it. What a difference a year makes.”
3. Team Europe wins the Solheim Cup
In September Catriona Matthew and her European Team battled the Americans on the final day at Gleneagles to win the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2013. Giving golf fans everywhere a truly nail biting final that ended with their 14 ½ - 13 ½ victory over Juli Inkster’s U.S. Team.
2. Suzann Pettersen wins Solheim Cup & Promptly Retires
The final day of the Solheim Cup started even at 8-8, with the tournament coming down to the wire as the Americans battled for their third three-peat. In the end, however it was Team Europe who proved to be the most hungry. As Bronte Law secured par and a singles win on the 17th, it was up to Norway’s Suzann Pettersen to secure the winning shot on the 18th.
Astonishingly, Pettersen had only played in three tournaments since taking maternity leave in November 2017. While many questioned the choice to bring her on as a Wildcard Pick, Matthew was steadfast in her decision.
With her young son Herman in the crowd that Sunday, Pettersen revelled in her moment and realised it was the perfect ending to an incredible career.
“This is it; professionally I’m done,” she said afterwards. Adding, “This is perfect closure. That’s it, I’m done. This is a good end to a great career.”
1.Tiger wins The Masters
How could Tiger Woods’ amazing Augusta comeback not be our number one moment from 2019? We don’t know about you, but watching Woods regain major glory at The Masters in April gave us all the feels and made us a bit nostalgic. Especially, as the former number one finished out his final round on the Sunday to huge cheers and “Tiger” chants from the crowd.
To Woods, his 15th major title was all about family.
“When I tapped the [final] putt, I don’t know what I did, but I know I screamed,” Woods said afterwards. “To have my kids there, it’s come full circle. My dad was here in ’97, and now I’m the dad with two kids there.”