TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED
Sublime Spieth, shocking sportsmanship and Rory’s troubles. In 2015, these were golf’s...
Talk about 2015 being the year of the unexpected. This was a golf season that left surprises at every juncture and kept us rapt in admiration, indignation or sheer disbelief.
Here are seven tales from this mesmerising campaign that I never imagined I’d write. 1 KID FROM TEXAS WINNING TWO MAJORS BY THE AGE OF 21 To think, it was not long ago that Jordan Spieth was being criticised for quitting college.
No-one would seek to diminish the value of getting a degree but swapping a graduate’s gown for a green jacket, and having your hands wrapped around the US Open trophy instead of a parched document, would surely lead most sports-minded people to conclude the remarkable Texan made the right call.
The $10million bonus for winning the FEDEX Cup wasn’t bad, either, nor was fourth place in The Open and the runners-up spot in the USPGA. The fact he achieved it all with impeccable grace and manners completed the picture. 2 RORY McILROY GOING FROM DUBAI TO A DUBLIN COURT One minute Rory McIlroy, who was world No 1 at the time, was winning with a masterful display in Dubai. The next, on a cold but bright morning in Dublin last February, he was appearing before a judge in the Four Courts regarding a bitter dispute with his exmanager Conor Ridge. The former, I could watch and write about all day. The latter? Surely — hopefully — a bizarre one-off. 3 WOMEN’S GOLF LEADING THE WAY ON MAILONLINE When the Norwegian panto villain Suzann Pettersen wrecked all harmony at the Solheim Cup with an act of wretched sportsmanship by not conceding a putt, her actions didn’t just transcend golf but all sport, with the story attracting such interest it became the headline item on the news pages of Mail-Online.
Those who subscribe to the idea that all publicity is good publicity must have been in heaven. The rest were left to wonder what on earth could have possessed her. 4 TOUR CEO TRASHING A SPONSOR We’re used to the game’s leading administrators speaking in vanilla tones, making comments so bland they barely warrant a paragraph, much less a headline. Then along came keith Pelley, the CEO of the European Tour, who promptly used his first major press conference to tell BMW, of all people, to pull their finger out.
Yes, with hindsight he’d probably admit he went too far. But the Canadian’s obvious determination to change the status quo promises to prove refreshing, not just for the Tour, but the game itself. 5 DAY PUTTING SEAL ON A REMARKABLE COMEBACK STORY We’ve seen a number of golfers overcome improbable odds to reach the top but perhaps none to surpass Jason Day’s journey from growing up in a house with no hot water to his cup overflowing with his victory at the USPGA Championship.
The fact he achieved it with a score of 20 under par, setting a new standard for the majors, added a permanent landmark to a story of great human depth.
6 THE ENGLISHMAN HITTING 10 TOP-10 FINISHES AGED JUST 21
a bit of perspective. Colin Montgomerie is the all-time king of the top 10s in Europe and in his rookie year he managed four. The first year he won the Order of Merit he mustered nine.
How exciting, therefore, that Matt Fitzpatrick should rack up so many and particularly with no fewer than seven coming in the final four months of the season. Fitzpatrick started the year ranked 413th in the world. Now he’s 48th... and heading in one direction. WORLD-CLASS
7 PLAYER GIVING UP 10-SHOT LEAD The tone for this year of surprises was set from the off. The setting was abu Dhabi, where Martin kaymer had already won three times. Now he had a 10-shot lead with 13 holes to play. What could possibly go wrong? Yet he frittered away every shot to blow a hole in that cliche about ruthless German efficiency. For the rest of the year, kaymer played like a man still trying to come to terms with the loss. AND ONE FOR NEXT YEAR… GOLF IN THE OLYMPICS I’d never given any notion to golf being in the Olympics, thought it wrong when the game’s rulers decided to put forward an argument, and utterly daft when it was given the thumbs-up. But now, I’m rather looking forward to Rio next year, and suggest we take our lead from the golfer of the year, Spieth, who said last week: ‘Winning a gold medal is up there in my mind with winning a major, and I shall be preparing as if it is one.’
Legal trouble: McIlroy has had a trying season
Dream year: Spieth was unstoppable
Poor show: Pettersen messes up