Sorry, once I get my teeth into something I don’t let go.
You’re getting the 8th Annual T2G Bungs for general golfing excellence and incompetency in 2014 this week, and you’ll like it.
Shug at “Trophies Fur U” in the Forum Centre has accepted my payment of three sleeves of vintage Pinnacles and we have the 13 tasteful plastic renditions of a journalist’s hand greedily reaching out for a freebie. Let’s get it on.
Player of the Year: Dealt with in last week’s T2G, and only one runner; Rory McIlroy with his two majors, the BMW, Firestone, the Freaky Fridays, and all those unused wedding invitations. When I said he was everybody’s player of the year last week, I should have made the exception of poor Caroline.
Tournament of the Year: An easy choice would be the Ryder Cup, which was memorable in so many ways, but not really as a contest. So the vote goes to the PGA Championship, which had the great drama of Tiger falling part physically followed by a compelling final day’s play where McIlroy was rightfully crowned as the best player of the moment.
Round of the Year: Being unashamedly parochial and using licence as it was two and a half rounds, Stephen Gallacher in Turin. His Ryder Cup dream was down the pan at the Italian Open, needing to finish second but 12 shots out of it at the turn in his second round. At last orders in the last-chance saloon, he went 16-under for the next 45 holes and fell a shot short, but made his wildcard case unanswerable.
Shot of the Year: Back to Rory. You could pick either one of his classic shots on the Sunday back nine at Valhalla, but I’ll take his three-wood tracer to the 10th green. It set up an easy eagle after he had lost the lead and started his charge to his second major of the year.
Depression of the Year: Lots to choose from in golf, as always. But to me it was that infamous Sunday night Team USA press conference at Gleneagles. The usual schadenfruede at the US loss for us European scribes was swept away as Tom Watson, a revered figure in the game, was publicly humiliated to assuage Phil Mickelson’s ego. Great story for us, yes, but not a pleasant experience.
Non-event of the Year: If the Masters can ever be a non-event, this year’s was. No challenge to Bubba Watson, no drama on the back nine for the first time in an age. Normal service resumed in 2015, hopefully.
Reassurance of the Year: Jamie Donaldson. Treated as a mix of Euro Tour journeyman and suddenly late-blooming arrival on the world stage after Gleneagles, he’s neither. This is his third full season in the world’s top 50. That the Welshman is finally getting some credit does the heart good.
Trophy of the Year: Scotland’s Kylie Walker had an outstanding season on the Ladies’ European Tour, establishing herself as a serious contender with wins in the Dutch and German Opens. However what she got for winning the German in Munich gets T2G’s favourite annual award, which naturally goes to the worst golfing bauble of the year. Kylie’s trophy was, literally, a lump of wood with a plaque nailed on. Seriously.
Stat of the Year: Australia’s Bryden MacPherson reached the sixth at Hoylake on the opening morning of the Open at two-over; not great, but not terminal. However he then went 4-6-5-3-7-6-8-4-7. The three was a par, both fours were bogeys. 16-over par for a nine hole stretch. Ouch.
Shank of the Year: I don’t know if any of Bryden’s 50 shots in those nine holes were shanks, but he doesn’t get this anyway. Rory, after his great season, on Friday at the DP World Championship, stone cold-topped a three-wood.
His reaction, which you can see on youtube, is the best. He looks at the ground, at the club, at JP his caddie, then back at the ground. Then he looks at JP again and grins.
Comeback of the Year: Rory could win this as well but I’m really not seeking an invite to pre-Christmas drinkies with Gerry and Rosie in Holywood. Instead, Oliver Wilson, a former Ryder Cup player in apparent career freefall, wins the Dunhill on a sponsors’ invitation. See, I’m not bitter about him calling one of my articles the recent one about Q School – one of the worst he’s ever read.
The Torch (for best emerging player): Shared, between Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, two young Americans who have all the talent to challenge Rory over the next decade or so. Spieth is already major-standard elite, Koepka will be soon.
The Dropped Torch: A salutary lesson for the two gentleman named above, and also for the third excellent young American of the moment, Patrick Reed. Antony Kim was what they were just six years ago winning tournaments, wowing Ryder Cups – but thanks to an excellent story by Sport Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck you can find online, we now know he’s no longer even playing, largely due to potential insurance payouts.