What a year for golf. From the return of an all-time great to the birth of a new British superstar and, of course, Team Europe’s victory. Plenty to celebrate. With Christmas around the corner, let’s take a look back at the gifts golf gave us this year.
“Frankie” has had a year, hasn’t he? It’s testament to his achievements that we’re forced to bundle them all together into one “gift”. The Italian became the first-ever Major winner from his homeland, capping off a run of three wins and two runners-up in six tournaments, including a win at the European Tour’s flagship event; the BMW PGA Championship, second spot on home soil at the Italian Open, a win and a runner-up on the PGA Tour (Quicken Loans National & John Deere Classic respectively) and the aforementioned Major title in The Open Championship at Carnoustie. Of course, he then became the first European ever to win 5 of 5 at the Ryder Cup, with four wins coming as part of Moliwood, but more on that later.
Molinari was honoured with the European Tour Player of the Year as well as the BBC World Sport Star of the Year. Well done, Francesco!
Hall’s Home Honours
Commeth the hour, commeth the woman. Women & Girls’ Golf Week was an initiative to inspire- you guessed it- women & girls to get into golf. In support of the initiative, we at Foremost interviewed three of our highly successful female Golf Professionals; Tracy Loveys, Jo Taylor & Sarah Smith. Everybody was in high spirits about the effects of the campaign, although nobody could have foreseen the perfect conclusion to the week. Georgia Hall, who had been quietly climbing the Ladies European Tour ranks, burst onto the scene with an incredible victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Hall’s timing was almost as perfect as her golf around Royal Lytham, and we can only hope that it will play its part in inspiring a new generation of female golfers. Yes, her snub for the Sports Personality of the Year was bitterly disappointing, but the public response to said snub was resoundingly positive for the women’s game.
Tiger’s Tour Championship
One of the most iconic worldwide sporting moments of the year. The image of Tiger being swallowed by a hoard of fans as he approached the 18th green with victory all-but sealed will live long in the memory of any golf fan.
Almost every golf writer in America seems blissfully unaware of the existence of the European Tour, so it’s nice to have so much to write about on this side of the pond. With that said, Tiger’s influence on the game was, is and always will be universal so I can’t ignore this moment on the PGA Tour.
Tiger was the main attraction at the Tour Championship, sure, and it was great to see an all-time great complete the comeback, but wasn’t it nice to see an Englishman win the ultimate prize on the PGA Tour?
Justin Rose reached World No. 1 on multiple occasions this year, but that was nothing more than a symbol of his incredible golf. Since August 2017, Rose has played 33 tournament and finished in the top ten 25 times, including 5 wins and eleven Top-5 finishes with just the one, lonesome missed cut. It’s been a phenomenal year that will conclude with Rose as World No. 2, but that doesn’t tell half the story. Oh, and could you wish it on a nicer guy?
What on earth does Brooks Koepka have to do to get some love? He’s the ultimate overlooked-middle-child doing everything to get attention but receiving none, except instead of tantrums and rebellious behaviour Koepka wins golf Majors. In actual fact, the World No. 1 and three-time Major Champ has everybody talking about him; they’re saying “Why is nobody talking about him?”
Like I said, this is a more European perspective but sometimes you can’t ignore a story in America and three Majors is two years is one of those times.
Moliwood halted the rampant U.S. team to prevent a Friday morning whitewash. Fleetwood and Molinari’s “bromance” typified the European spirit that gave them such a dominant victory in Paris against the star-studded States. As enjoyable as it was to see the sublime golf produced by this team spirit, my favourite part of the 2018 Ryder Cup was, without doubt, the celebrations.
Back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff wins earned Bryson DeChambeau 4 titles in his last 13 finishes. When Fleetwood climbed from World No. 99 to 17th in a year we said “WOW” but, as things stand, “The Mad Scientist” will climb from 99th to 5th in a year. Wow.
Matt Wallace recorded three wins for the season (and hasn’t received the recognition he deserves, if you ask me) but that appears only the start for a rising English star.
The European Tour are doing their bit to keep golf moving forward with the times. After all, time waits for no man. The players were very aware of that at the Shot Clock Masters which, along with the Belgian Knockout, will return in 2019. The Hero Challenge events continue to grow in popularity.
I’ve already mentioned Rose, Fleetwood & Wallace, but they were just part of an incredible year for English golf. Eddie Pepperell won his first two European Tour events, with the second coming on home soil at the British Masters. Matthew Fitzpatrick successfully defended his Omega European Masters title. Masters Champion Danny Willett returned to the European Tour winners’ circle along with Lee Westwood, whilst Ian Poulter and Paul Casey did so on the PGA Tour. Aaron Rai recorded his first win, too. Oliver Fisher shot the first-ever European Tour 59.
Celebrate Good Times
So, plenty to celebrate in a year of golf both globally and close to home. It’s a funny old game, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh, and Merry Christmas!