Socks are Dustin’s kryptonite and Sergio found a way.
The 2017 season offered doses of weird, wonderful, woeful and wacky. Here’s what we can take away from the year in golf just ended:
Dustin Johnson discovered his wedge game. It was the lone missing link to Johnson’s formidable arsenal, then Butch Harmon helped him place that final puzzle piece. Oh, what Johnson’s season might have been had he not worn socks down that staircase in Augusta.
Golf’s rules remain a hot mess. Ball marking. Anchoring. Blowing leaves that nudge a ball in motion. Some of the most archaic, confounding regulations in all of sport lie within golf’s rules. This long-mooted rules revision can’t come soon enough – and needs commonsense to be at its core.
Sergio taught us anything is possible. Even he didn’t believe he could win the Masters. Yet there Garcia was, on the day when the late Seve Ballesteros would have turned 60, becoming the third Spaniard to wear the green jacket. Seve and Jose Maria Olazabal both won twice at Augusta – so why not Sergio, too? Sometimes good things happen when you try a little less, care a little less and just get out of your own way.
“Sometimes good things happen when you try a little less, care a little less and just get out of your own way.”
The LPGA provides more intriguing battles then it gets credit for. The No.1 ranking in women’s golf was like a hot potato in 2017 as multiple players held it throughout the year. And numerics aside, some of the more impressive duels in world golf came from players wearing skirts. One caveat: the Evian Championship is a myth of a Major and needs its July date back ASAP.
It’s time for the US Open to get back to its roots. I was in favour of the Erin Hills experiment, just as I was with Chambers Bay in 2015. But the persona of the US Open is classic, ‘golden age’ courses – not two 3-woods being used to cover 600 metres and 16-under totals. Fortunately, there’s a slew of classic venues coming up in the next decade.
That said, US Open winner Brooks Koepka is a stud. I would not be surprised if he has a dominant, multiple-win 2018. He could be the Justin Thomas of the new year with five-plus victories and another Major. He’s that good.
Still, Justin Thomas is the real deal. I loved this guy’s motion and quiet swagger the moment he first popped up on tour a few years ago. To see how far he’s come in a short amount of time is no surprise at all. His US PGA Championship will have company soon enough; possibly in April.
Jordan Spieth is Houdini in Under Armour. Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t reveal the whole story and it certainly looked like Spieth was battling more than just Matt Kuchar, the golf course and a one-shot deficit as he was carving his drive on 13 into the middle of next week in the final stages of the British Open. But the instant turnaround to produce peerless strike after peerless strike was spellbinding – and that’s before you discuss his wizardry on the greens. Whether playing good, bad or indifferent golf, Spieth makes every tournament he plays feel compelling.
The Presidents Cup remains a work in progress. Even after 23 years, the Ryder Cup wannabe remains several tweaks from becoming captivating. The fact it came within a whisker of being over before the Sunday singles matches was embarrassing and comical. An overhaul, please! (And consider including the globe’s best female golfers.)
Bernhard Langer might just out-live everyone. Sixty is when you’re supposed to dial it back a notch but turning 60 last year only fired the German up even more. It was farcical that he didn’t win the season-ending points fiasco but it mattered not in the eyes of his peers – Langer was the best over-50s player all season. Again. And he’s not done with yet.
Golf’s minnow circuits are in trouble. OneAsia, the Ladies European Tour – either dead or dying – are in need of help. For the LET that help is coming, but the time is still ripe for the smaller tours to latch on to the larger tours more than they already do so.
Meaning … Australia’s tournament future isn’t in November/December. February, people. It’s all about February. What are we waiting for?