Golf Highlights of 2015
Decline and Fall
At the same time, some of the games traditional luminaries showed signs of decline and possibly the end of their career. We are talking about, of course, Tiger Woods. Perhaps the most talented player to ever step onto a PGA course, he dominated the game for many years with an unbelievable display of talent, grit and charisma. Yet, things really began to change after a personal crisis that was played out in headlines in print and electronic media for many months.
He was never the same afterwards. Add in nagging injuries resulting from years of high stress, top level golf and the result was grim. As when the end of 2015 came nigh, some reports surfaced that Tiger had accepted his condition, even acknowledging that it might be the end of the pinnacle of his career. We don’t know if those reports are accurate, so we can only speculate. Whatever is actually true in terms of how Tiger personally sees his situation, it is a dramatic turn from the blazing star and the raced across the sky during his heyday.
David Love III Win at Wyndham
Yet, not all of the old dogs were done. Davis Love III, one of the PGA stars for many years, came roaring back in 2015 to win the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro North Carolina. He capped his victory with a blistering 64 in the final round. Looking strong and fit at a youthful 51 years old, his win meant that he was the third oldest winner in the entire history of the PGA tour. Ironically, this tournament was also a good result for the aforementioned Tiger Woods, just not good enough to win. Perhaps Davis Love III won the tournament because he has won it twice before, and possibly felt very comfortable in that venue. The win gave him the opportunity to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Young Guns Take Over
While Davis’ win warmed the hearts of middle-aged golfers everywhere, the best of golf highlights was the complete takeover by a group of young guns. The story began to be told in the 2014-15 season with a mind altering statistic: first-time winners capture titles 11 times. During the 2015-16 year, first-time winners have captured the crown six times. Hold onto your golf belt buckle for this statistic: five of those six wins have come from complete rookies. Names that cropped up on leader boards including Emiliano Grillo, Harold Varner III, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger. Of course, major stars like Jason Day, Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy were the forefront of the youth brigade that has been bubbling under on tour for the last several years, now erupting with youthful wins everywhere.
Rickie Fowler Stuns the Haters
You have to have a tough skin to compete at the PGA level. Case in point: in a poll taken by PGA Tour players on an anonymous basis, both Ian Poulter and Ricky Fowler were named as the most overrated competitors on the tour. Ouch! With his constant social media interactions, flashy clothes and strong opinions, it’s not a shock that Ian Poulter might take this title. However, fan favorite Ricky Fowler is a little bit more surprising.
Just Win, Baby
In any case, how did Ricky Fowler react? Like true competitors do – he won big. He captured the players championship with an amazing display of golf in the final round. He grabbed an Eagle and four birdies in the final six holes in what was to become the best finish ever in the entire history of the tournament. His last-minute display of greatness put him into a three-man playoff with veteran Sergio Garcia as well as Kevin Kisner. It didn’t take long for him to top the other two and grab the championship. It was truly a masterful display by a premier golf talent, and one of the best golf highlights of the year.
Jordan Spieth Dominates
At the tender age of 22, Jordan Spieth played with the patience and strategy of a golfer twice his age and experience. His win at the Tour Championship capped a stunning year that included two major championships and a trio of other wins. His name is often bandied about when golfers speculate who is the person that can fill the shoes seemingly vacated by Tiger Woods. While any number of the emerging young players that we’ve mentioned so far could move into that role, Spieth has the tenacity, doggedness and grit often displayed by Tiger during his prime.
Matching the Performance of Legends
In fact, Spieth’s 2015 season can be filed with some of the best years played by legends of the game including Tiger Woods and Byron Nelson. He had the golf world abuzz with excitement not seen since the glory days of Tiger at the top of his game when he captured the first two majors of the year. First, he grabbed the Masters at Augusta, and then made a last-minute push down the final stretch at Chambers Bay to capture the U.S. Open. All he needed now was to win at the British Open and he would be primed to win the PGA championship for a Grand Slam. The excitement was palpable as the British Open began. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert it into a win, but he made a serious effort, and settled for a tie for fourth at the end. His banner year of accomplishments included the lowest collective score from the four major tournaments, winning five tournaments to garner more than $22 million in winnings, leading the PGA Tour in 21 different scoring categories including putting average, winning the Vardon Trophy, the Arnold Palmer Award for money leader, the Byron Nelson Award for scoring average and the PGA Tour Player of the Year.
The Demise of Tiger Woods
With someone of the stupendous talent of the caliber of Tiger Woods, it’s difficult to say that he will never come roaring back and win a boatload of golf tournaments in the future. However, for the time being, Tiger Woods is truly at a low point in the arc of his incredible story. For a time, he battled gamely in tournament after tournament in the early part of the year. However, it was shocking and heartbreaking to see him miss simple shots such as short chips, or shank iron shots that many TV viewers were used to seeing him hit purely from the most difficult of lies. It’s interesting how his interaction with the media changed over the 2015 season as well. In the first part of the year, he relied on any of the clichés and stilted golf explanations about his play that he has used in the past during a difficult tournament. As the year wore on, and his problems became a regular occurrence, he began to reveal more of himself, and take a more honest approach in communicating his situation. In the end, that may be what saves him. Perhaps an honest, fresh look at his predicament will be the key to unlock the talent that has become dormant of late.
High Highs and Low Lows
Another player that broke through in a big way in 2015 after knocking on the door for many years was Jason Day. His epic win at the PGA Championship made him the first player from the golf-loving country of Australia to win a major. Other highlights during th
e year included Brian Harman knocking in two hole-in-one’s in one round at the Barclays. His accomplishment meant that he was only the third player in the entire history of the pro game to card two hole-in-ones in a single match. Another incredible scene happened at Whistling Straits when Matt Jones hit a great recovery shot on the ninth hole from a hospitality tent. Another person making innovative shots was Shane Lowry at the Bridgestone. He mastered the tough rough on the course in the final round, with the result that he captured his first win in the big leagues.
More Exciting Than Ever
Sometimes golf gets slagged as being a slow-moving, boring sport for old men. But even the most impartial observer must admit that this is a hackneyed view of things. The exciting golf highlights that unfolded in 2015 is the best evidence that the game is more exciting than ever before. Rather than one or two names becoming stars, golf is seeing the emergence of an entire group of exciting young players that are building the future of the game right before our eyes. To learn more about your future potential in the golf industry, contact us today.