2016 was the third year that I’ve done as much golf coverage for this site as one person can manage, and in celebration of a fairly exciting year coming to an end, these are my top 10 favorite moments from the year.
1. A duel for the ages!
I watched every minute of the Open Championship, and what Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson did was simply amazing. The two put on one of the greatest shows at a major championship since the Duel in the Sun which featured Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in 1977. Stenson and Mickelson both blew away the competition finishing at 20-under and 17-under which was 11 strokes better than third place finisher J.B. Holmes. The two were tied at -16 heading into the 14th hole before Stenson birdied four of the remaining five holes to capture his first major championship.
2. Take your rule and shove it!
Dustin Johnson had probably the best year of any golfer on Tour and it was sealed by his win at the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Of course the most memorable part of the tournament will be Johnson’s ball moving on the green on the fifth hole where he was told, at the time, that he did not cause the ball to move. Later the rules committee decided after reviewing the tape that Johnson had in fact caused his ball to move and he was given a one-stroke penalty while coming down the stretch to his first major victory. It didn’t matter and Johnson put on a show on the 18th hole.
He slammed the door on the ridiculous ruling that had other golfers just as upset. The fiasco at Oakmont finally brought on a change from the USGA and R&A who installed a “Local Rule” regarding ball movement on the green.
3. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
Jordan Speith’s collapse on the par-3 12th hole during the final round of the Masters could be the number one moment of the year, but I’m not a fan of putting things like this at the top of a list that features performances like Stenson, Mickelson, and Johnson had. Spieth’s epic quadruple bogey cost him back-to-back green jackets.
It’s also a clear reminder that the Masters is won on the back nine on Sunday.
4. Is this golf?!
Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy were probably the most entertaining duo to face off this season. Both were on fire during the Ryder Cup and the enthusiasm they showed was unbelievable. From Reed smashing fairway woods onto the green and then jumping around and shouting to McIlroy shushing the crowd, if you didn’t enjoy the Ryder Cup this year you never will.
Rory McIlroy may not have won a major championship in 2016, but he showed he isn’t done by any means. McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship and then the Tour Championship just two weeks later in a playoff and collected his first FedExCup trophy.
The 27-year-old from Northern Ireland will be a force to reckon with in 2017, and brace yourself for this, I think he wins not only one major, but TWO! He’s just that good.
6. Wire-to-wire twice in one season!
Jason Day put on a phenomenal performance at the Players Championship. Day went wire-to-wire for the third time in his career. He became only the second player to win two tournaments by going wire-to-wire in one season; Tiger was the other and he did it twice (2000 and 2002).
All in the family.
Jason Day wins THE PLAYERS Championship. https://t.co/H5YfzIlYoP
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 15, 2016
7. Who needs a belly putter?
Adam Scott proved that he can win without that stupid belly putter. Not only did Scott win one tournament, the Honda Classic, but he turned around a week later and won a second at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It was the Aussie’s first PGA Tour win since 2014.
8. The lowest round ever on the PGA Tour!
Jim Furyk missed part of the season after undergoing surgery on his wrist, but on Sunday at the Travelers Championship he was on fire. Furyk carded a PGA Tour record 58 and became the first player to ever shoot in the 50’s twice on the PGA Tour. Furyke joined Stephan Jaeger, who shot a 58 on the Web.com Tour, as the only players to ever shoot 58 on either the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour, European Tour, or Champions Tour.
9. An ace on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass!
This may not be on many lists, but Will Wilcox made the first ace on the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass during the Players Championship in 14 years, since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2002. The numbers don’t lie, it was impressive. Oh, and he did it with a yellow ball.
A lot of other stuff happened in 2016. Beef arrived! SB2k16 happened. There were a ton of first-time winners on Tour and several players collected their first wins in years (Dufner, Garcia), trick shots we all the rage and a famous trick-shot artist won his way onto the PGA Tour, but 2016 also lost a legend.
The King, Arnold Palmer, passed away in September. He was not only an amazing golfer, but also one of the greatest ambassadors the sport has ever had.
(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)