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: Worldwide Weekend

Oh, to spend Halloween playing Pumpkin Ridge, the famed Oregon club whose Witch Hollow and Ghost Creek courses scare the knickers off the heartiest golfing souls.

Instead, we’re summing up this weekend’s action from the pro tours while waiting for the trick-or-treaters to trickle in.

Luckily, there’s plenty to report. Golf’s global reach was apparent as a slew of U.S. stars battled in Malaysia and Rory McIlroy won a non-official but highly lucrative event in China, where Taiwan’s Yani Tseng continued to terrorize her so-called competitors.

Carl Spackler costume

Our idea of a Cinderella costume

We’ll make this week’s rundown quick. Gotta slip into our Carl Spackler costume  for tonight.

Golf Claps

Bo Van Pelt: The 36-year-old has quietly become one of the PGA Tour’s steadiest performers, but has had trouble closing the deal when in contention. He practically slammed it on Sunday, winning the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia by six shots. Van Pelt’s final-round 64 earned him a cool $1.3 million and a big shot of confidence from beating Camilo Villegas, Vijay Singh, Robert Allenby and other stars in the Asian Tour event.

Sergio Garcia: It’s fitting that on Halloween, we’re comfortable declaring this of the former poltergeist: He’s baaaack. Garcia followed up his victory at the Castello Masters with another at the Andalucia Masters, beating countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez by a shot. Home cooking has been kind to Garcia, who became the first Spaniard to win a stroke-play even at storied Valderrama.

Rory McIlroy: The international man of mystery pocketed $2 million – golf’s biggest payday – by fending off Anthony Kim in a playoff at the Shanghai Masters. It didn’t get him any closer to Luke Donald’s No. 1 world ranking, but the win confirmed that McIlroy remains plenty hungry following his U.S. Open triumph.

Yani Tseng: The game’s top female made the most of her own trip to China, winning the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open for her 11th worldwide victory this year. That includes a pair of majors and marks Tseng the clear choice as golf’s most dominant player, regardless of gender.

Silent Treatment

450-yard par 4s: For the first time ever, average driving distance on the PGA Tour eclipsed 290 yards for an entire season (290.9 to be precise). To put that in perspective, Lee Janzen’s average tee shot in 2011 was 290.1 yards. In 1993, the year Janzen won his first of two U.S. Opens, he averaged 257.1.

He was 29 then. He’s 47 now. Frightening how much equipment has changed, isn’t it?

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