Spy on Golf: The Best (and Worst) of 2011

December 23, 2011 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf Clubs, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

With 2012 nearly upon us, it’s time to bid adieu to 2011 – a topsy-turvy year in golf that managed to entertain, start to finish, with or without Tiger Woods on stage. Here are one blogger’s picks for the year’s best – and best forgotten – people, moments and assorted objects.

Putter of the Year: Long (by a grip handle over Belly)

Putt of the Year: Keegan Bradley, PGA Championship, 17th hole of the final round

Quote of the Year: “As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.” – Ernie Els on using a belly putter

Prize of the Year: Cured Spanish ham

Headline of the Year: Saltman wins body eight in ham for hole-in-one

Ben Crane

Ham of the Year

Ham of the Year: Ben Crane

Player of the Year, Men: Luke Donald

Player of the Year, Any Gender: Yani Tseng

Youngster of the Year: Lexi Thompson

Streak of the Year: Donald’s 449 holes without a three-putt

Meaningful Meaningless Win of the Year: Tiger Woods, Chevron World Challenge

Performance for the Ages of the Year: Rory McIlroy’s eight-shot victory at the U.S. Open

Cutthroat of the Year: McIlroy, who dumped his girlfriend and his agent in 2011

Gag-Inducing Celebrity Couple Nickname of the Year: Wozzilroy (McIrloy and his new squeeze, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki)

Resurrected Career of the Year: Tie -- Sergio Garcia and Thomas Bjorn

Celebrator of the Year: Open champion Darren Clarke

Guinness Stout

Beverage of the Year

Beverage of the Year: Guinness Stout

#$!*& of the Year: Steve Williams

Innocent Bystander of the Year: Adam Scott

Captain of the Year: Fred Couples (Presidents Cup)

City of the Year: Jupiter, Fla. (aka the “new Orlando”)

Amateur of the Year: Patrick Cantlay

Lowlife of the Year: John Daly (who has officially retired this dubious honor)

Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: BMW Championship

Justin Rose was the ultimate driving machine in winning the BMW Championship. Well, at least for one round.

Justin Rose wins BMW Championship

Justin Rose

The Englishman hauled off the hardware on the strength of a first-round 63 in which he hit every fairway while averaging 304 yards per poke. Rose’s driving stats slipped, but his willpower never wavered; he won by two with a gutsy Sunday finish.

Rose and 29 of his PGA Tour brethren now pack their bags for Atlanta and the Tour Championship, where the 2011 FedEx Cup will be decided. Those in position to cash the $10 million winner’s check include Rose, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar.

On with this week’s cheers and jeers…

Golf Claps

Justin Rose: Ah, the sweet smell of success. It has come all too infrequently for Rose, a wondrous talent who won for just the third time in his Tour career with a 13-under total at Chicago’s Cog Hill Golf Club. Clearly the class of a 70-man field, Rose stumbled down the stretch before a chip-in birdie on the 71st hole provided a two-shot cushion.

Rose’s rock-solid par on the tough 18th may be a sign of newfound toughness. For now, the finish puts to rest doubts about Rose’s ability to close out a big tourney.

The Aussies: John Senden and Geoff Ogilvy needed stellar performances just to make the Tour Championship. The Australian pair delivered, placing second and third, respectively, to punch their tickets to Hot-lanta.

Good on ya, mates.

Lexi Thompson: We’d be remiss without a detour to the women’s side, where a girl made history over the weekend. Lexi Thompson, age 16, didn’t just win the Navistar LPGA Classic. She shredded the field by five shots, showing monster talent and a killer instinct that marks her as the golfer Michelle was supposed to be by now.

Of course, Thompson has to become a full-fledged LPGA Tour member before she can set about dominating the game. Golf blogger Stephanie Wei has the details.

Silent Treatment

Dustin Johnson: The defending BMW champ was riding high entering this year’s event, but went off track in a T65 performance. Still Johnson maintained his second-place standing in the FedEx Cup race and stands a good chance of winning it all – provided he can turn things around in a hurry after leading the BMW field in bogeys (23).

Rees Jones: Phil Mickelson’s not the only one who wants to sue the “Open Doctor” for malpractice. Jones’ remodeling of Cog Hill’s revered No. 4 course was panned by the mild-mannered likes of Steve Stricker, who said the owners “need to get their money back” from the veteran architect.

While fans often dismiss players’ course criticisms as mere whining, that’s not the case here. Mickelson, Stricker and others routinely deride Jones’ work for its one-dimensionality, saying his style – marked by over-abundant bunkering and multi-fingered greens -- sucks all strategy from the game.

The operative word being “sucks.”

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