Everything changed in 2020, but at T2G we abhor change and we’re pushing ahead with the 14th annual Bungs as if worldwide catastrophes haven’t occurred.
2020 is a definite challenger for the Bung for Absolutely Worst Years of all Time, if it existed. However I think 1350, the peak year of the Black Death, remains the frontrunner there.
We were fortunate golf was played at all at an elite level in 2020. The un-elite level saw an unexpected and hugely welcome boost, as people remembered being outdoors with sticks and a ball might be decent fun in an otherwise miserable time.
As ever the categories we first used in 2006 remain unchanged, as we shamelessly shape events to fit.
Player of the Year
We sorted this last week. Dustin Johnson, by any measurement, was the outstanding player of 2020.
Tournament of the Year
I didn’t get to many events in 2020, so this is easily the smallest field of contenders for this Bung there’s ever been. The Open and the Ryder Cup, obvious potential highlights, were both postponed.
The only benefit of the pandemic for me was the ability to stroll the fairways of big events without ropes. Wandering the empty slopes of the Renaissance at the Scottish Open was a pleasure. The exciting finish of that championship confirms this Bung.
Round of the Year
Bryson DeChambeau features much in this list, and this is the positive one. Failure in the final round of the US Open at Winged Foot would have surely made him an utterly busted flush.
Instead, he shot a three-under 67 to win by six while no-one else broke par, and his outlandish claims for himself had some substance at last.
Shot of the Year
The best major of the year was the first, when we were giddy with the notion that major championship golf might be fresh and exciting under a pandemic. The finish of the PGA at TPC Harding Park kept that misplayed notion alive for a while.
Collin Morikawa’s 290-yard tee shot to six feet at the 16th in the final round decided the championship in his favour. It was an absolute “grasp the nettle” moment, and in just his second major.
Depression of the Year
There were heroic and admirable efforts to get elite golf played. Some of those tournaments were actually pretty good.
But the season was really one nine-month depression. No Open, Ryder Cup, no fans, no atmosphere anywhere. When – or if – we return to some sort of normality, we can’t recall 2020 with any affection whatsoever.
Non-event of the Year
Bryson at the Masters. We were all slavishly caught up in the hype that something epochal was about to happen to the game.
It was driven almost entirely by DeChambeau himself by his social media posts, public utterances and careful leaks of what he was doing in practice. What actually happened left him 18 shots behind the winner.
Reassurance of the Year
After years of steady decline, participation, club membership and rounds played shot up across the golfing world during the pandemic. It seems, happily, golf itself was a reassurance this year for many.
Trophy of the Year
As Bung veterans will know, this goes to the worst golf trophy seen in the year. Not much could live up to last year’s winner, of course. But despite a discouraging trend of more boring crystal, there were the usual spate of new “beauties” in 2020.
I found the Champions’ Tour to be 2020’s best source of truly awful trophies, with a contender in Darren Clarke’s win at the TimberTech Championship recalling one of our all-time lost classics, the “sledgehammer taken to IKEA cabinet” from the Johnnie Walker Championship.
But the winner has to be the trophy for Phil Mickelson’s debut win with the round bellies at the Ozarks National.
It’s a sculpture of a bird in threatening pose. One imagines that it’s meant to convey the aggressiveness of the bird, but it looks like it’s lifting its tail feathers to spectacularly relieve itself.
Phil couldn’t even bring himself to lift the thing, much less kiss it in usual fashion.
Stat of the Year
Bryson’s “personal” par of 67 at the Masters. With delicious irony, the 20-under four 67s would have produced was Dustin Johnson’s winning score.
Shank of the Year
On the hole he was supposed to change the game forever, any one of his first five shots of a double bogey seven could qualify.
Comeback of the Year
Tiger Woods defends his title for the third year in succession, albeit in vastly different circumstances. After a sextuple bogey 10 at the 12th on the final day at Augusta, Woods incredibly birdied five of the remaining six holes.
Who else could do such a thing? Even tired, struggling and hopelessly out of the tournament, it’s an awesome measure of the fight in the man.