Golf year in review: Sergio Garcia finally breaks his duck

Golf year in review: Sergio Garcia finally breaks his duck

Story of the Year – Sergio Garcia
Nanjing Night Net

Sergio Garcia really was due. The 37-year-old, who burst on to the scene around the same time as Tiger Woods, had finished second in a major championship on four occasions, and top 10 in a further 22. Even he didn’t think he had it in him to finally get over the line. That was until he strode onto the fairways at Augusta for the US Masters, found himself in a play-off against England’s Justin Rose, then slipped his arms into the green jacket. It was hard to think of a touring professional who deserved the breakthrough more than the Spaniard. He would round out his year at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast. Like Adam Scott, who broke the drought for Australian fans in 2013, a Masters triumph gives Garcia the sort of exalted status that will last until the day he puts down the clubs for the final time. Who’s to say there aren’t more major wins in store for him in 2018.

The Winners – Americans

Garcia aside, it was the rise of the young Americans in 2017 as they took every major outside of the Masters. Brooks Koepka began the rush when he saluted in the US Open at Erin Hills in June, pocketing more than $US2 million in the process. Then it was the turn of Jordan Spieth, who won the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in dramatic scenes. Spieth looked to have blown it when he gave up a three-shot final round lead to countryman Matt Kuchar, before a blisteringly fine nine holes that included three birdies and an eagle – good enough for a one-stroke win. Justin Thomas rounded out the hat-trick for the Stars and Stripes, winning the PGA Championship at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow. They represent a new breed of 20-something stars that have set the pace for the previous generation, those of Garcia’s vintage, who must find a way to respond in 2018.

The losers – golf fans in Melbourne

While Spieth and Jason Day were playing the Australian Open in Sydney and Garcia, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott were teeing it up on the Gold Coast, Melbourne remained a golfing wasteland in 2017. The demise of the Masters has left the city, which boasts some of the finest courses in Australia, devoid of any live action. The days of the triple crown of Australian golf are gone, at least for the foreseeable future, though there is reason for Victorians to be excited in coming summers.

The city has poached the Open for 2020 and 2022, leaving Sydney minus a major golf event, while the world’s best players will be there in 2019 for the President’s Cup, which Open organisers and those in charge of the PGA Championship (staying at Royal Pines for another three years) will be hoping to leverage for talent. But as it stood this year, the television was as close as it came for golf enthusiasts at the bottom of the mainland.

Quote of the year – Jason Day

The former world No.1 dashed off the course in Texas in March, later explaining the emotional reasons for his rapid departure. His mother, Dening, was suffering lung cancer and had been in surgery in an Ohio hospital.

“It’s really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now because of what she’s gone through,” a tearful Day said later. “I’m glad I brought her over here. And it’s been really hard to play golf lately this year. It’s been very, very emotional, as you can tell. I’ve already gone through it once with my dad [Alvin, who died of stomach cancer when Day was 12], and I know how it feels. And it’s hard enough to see another one go through it.”

Social media moment – Audrey Leishman

The Australian Marc Leishman’s American wife, Audrey, wasn’t impressed with what she saw at the President’s Cup in New York, using a blog post to lambast boozy fans, whom she felt showed little to no respect for many of the international contingent.

“There were many times last week that I thought about what the kids were seeing. The crowds booing for good shots and cheering for missed putts. The drinking at 7 a.m.? Screaming ‘Big Easy’ to Ernie Els and begging for his autograph and then yelling at his players. Heckling a wife for her beauty and then her husband for his play. I was thankful my boys weren’t there to see the way people were treating their daddy. Their hero.”

Crystal ball – another major, a rising star and the return of a familiar name

Tiger Woods showed promise in his tournament in the Bahamas and will return to the tour to be a force in the majors, although he won’t win one. An Australian will, though, and it’s likely to be Marc Leishman, who has become a consistent force among the game’s elite and has the chops to carry off one of the big ones. Scott will return to the game’s top 15 players as he returns from new-baby duties and Cameron Smith, a new star of the game, will be in the world’s top 50 by the end of the year.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.