TALES OF THE UN­EX­PECTED

Sublime Spieth, shock­ing sports­man­ship and Rory’s trou­bles. In 2015, these were golf’s...

Daily Mail - - Golf - derek.lawren­son@dai­ly­mail.co.uk DEREK LAWREN­SON

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

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Dream year: Spieth was un­stop­pable

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Poor show: Pet­tersen messes up

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