The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of 2016 Golf
2016 has been one crazy and sometimes bizarre year – both on and off the golf course. Regardless of where you stand on the big issues of the past 12 months a lot of mind-blowing things have been going on. Here’s our look at the top moments in golf from 2016 – The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly.
Justin Rose Wins Gold
Justin Rose won gold for Great Britain at the Rio Games, securing golf’s triumphant return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years. Marking his first win of 2016, the Englishman was elated over his victory.
“That felt better than anything I’ve ever won. It was the best tournament I’ve ever done,” Rose told reporters afterwards.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” he added. “The whole week, I’ve been so focused. I’ve been so into it. I’ve been so up for it. It was just the most magical week, it really was.”
The gold medalist also made Olympic history when he shot the games first-ever hole-in-one!
Arnold Palmer Dies
On September 25, 2016 the golfer known as “The King” and seven-time major winner Arnold Palmer died at the age of 87. Four of Palmer’s major titles came at the prestigious Augusta National, where the King won the Green Jacket in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964.
A statement at the time on the Masters website said, “His presence at Augusta National will be sorely missed, but his impact on the Masters remains immeasurable – and it will never wane.” Adding, “Most importantly, we, his friends at Augusta National Golf Club, will always love him.”
Ariya Jutanugarn becomes Thailand’s first Major Winner
In July Ariya Jutanugarn secured her first major win at the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a 3-stroke victory over Mo Martin and Mirim Lee. Becoming the first-ever major winner from Thailand.
In just her second season on the LPGA Tour, Jutanugarn has had a complete transformation this year securing five titles and winning the Race to the CME Globe as well as the Rolex Player of the year. All after missing 10 consecutive cuts in 2015!
Tiger’s back – wait, no he isn’t – wait, now he is
In October, Tiger Woods announced his return to the professional circuit. But as quickly as he revealed his plan to play the Safeway Open within days the American had withdrawn, citing his game was “vulnerable and not where it needs to be.”
By December the 14x major winner felt ready, competing for the first time in 16-months at his foundation’s Hero World Challenge. Overall it was a promising weekend for the 40-year-old who led the tournament in birdies (24 to winner Hideki Matsuyama’s 22). Friday was a particular highlight for Woods after an incredible bogey-free 7-under 65!
But it wasn’t all good news for the former world number one who also led the tournament in double bogeys – carding an unwanted six in total. And whose final round was a disappointing 4-over 76, placing him 15th in the 18-man field.
“I made some birdies this week, which is nice,” Woods told reporters afterwards. “I was playing aggressive. I thought I might have created a little bit of noise a little bit here and there after a couple starts. I just wasn’t able to keep it going for two of those rounds, but overall it was a fun, competitive week for me.”
Danny Willett’s Masters Win
In April Sheffield’s Danny Willett became the second Englishman to win The Masters, twenty years after Sir Nick Faldo won his third and final Green Jacket.
What seemed like a slam-dunk for returning champion Jordan Spieth quickly unraveled on the back nine, with the Texan quadruple-bogeying the 12th after landing two shots in the water. Willett quickly jumped on Spieth’s demise, taking the lead following the epic meltdown to win his first major title.
“You just can’t describe the emotions and feelings. We all go out there and try to play good golf, and ultimately somebody has to win the tournament. Fortunately, today was my day,” said Willett afterwards.
Danny Willett’s Ryder Cup Reaction
Despite being the current Masters champion, Danny Willett headed to Hazletine in September as a Ryder Cup rookie. Things got off to a rocky start after Willett’s brother wrote an article bashing American fans before the practice rounds had even finished. Both captain Darren Clarke and Willett were forced to apologise for the piece but it seemed the damage had gotten to the English golfer who went 0-3 over the weekend and labeled his first Ryder Cup appearance a four-letter word.
The European Tour takes on the Mannequin Challenge
The Mannequin Challenge has been sweeping the globe since October this year. The craze features videos of people freezing like mannequins while music plays in the background. Last month the guys on the European Tour got in on the action with some pretty stellar results!
Dustin Johnson and USGA Controversy at Oakmont
After a wild ride at Oakmont, Dustin Johnson claimed his first major title at the U.S. Open in June despite playing the last seven holes not knowing whether he would face a penalty. The USGA’s decision to wait until Johnson finished his round to hand him a 1-stroke penalty for accidental ball movement received heavy criticism from spectators and pro golfers alike.
Johnson remained cool throughout the controversy stating afterwards, “I knew when they walked up to me on the 12th tee when they said they had been watching it. But who cares? It doesn’t matter anymore. I’m glad it didn’t matter.”
Penalty Controversy Follows on to the Women’s U.S. Open
The final round of the U.S. Women’s Open in July went to play-off holes and the USGA found themselves at the centre of yet another penalty controversy.
As Brittany Lang and Anna Nordqvist battled it out at Corde Valle Golf Club a relook at Nordqvist’s second hole revealed she had “grounded” her club in the bunker. The USGA informed the Swedish player on the next hole after she had hit her third shot. A timing Nordqvist was not overly happy with.
“It’s been a long day, a long week. So probably misjudged it a little bit and touched a little bit of sand and that is a penalty,” said Nordqvist afterwards. But added, “I just wish they would have told me a little earlier. They told me after I hit my third shot. It might not have changed anything, but I just wish it was a little bit earlier.”
Nordqvist was given a two-stroke penalty for the infraction and Lang went on to win her first major title.
Justin Rose and the American Heckler at Hazeltine
The Ryder Cup can get a bit rowdy, with fans shouting out and at times disrupting players on the course. This year at Hazeltine was no exception but one guy appeared more than happy to put his money where his mouth was.
After Team Europe appeared to be having some trouble putting during a practice round spectator David Johnson yelled out, “I could have made that!” Justin Rose invited the U.S. fan to have a go, placing a $100 bill down as an extra incentive. Johnson nailed the putt, much to the delight of the American crowd.
“I thought it might make it a bit more real for him, but clearly not,” said Rose afterwards. “The boys were cupping out, missing it low and this guy just got the ball out and ripped it into the middle.”