Golf 2013 review
We reflect on another memorable year in the majors and some of the highs and lows elsewhere.
Last Updated: 13/01/14 9:56am
Tiger Woods racked up five wins on the PGA Tour but went majorless for the fifth season running, while it was a year to forget for Rory McIlroy.
Here, we look back on the best of 2013...
Player of the year: Henrik Stenson
Given the importance golf puts on its four majors, it's hard for anyone who hasn't won one of the prized quartet to top this category. But despite the claims of Masters winner Adam Scott, US Open champ Justin Rose and Open hero Phil Mickelson, the nod goes to Henrik Stenson. To win the two big finales - the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup and European Tour's Race To Dubai - in the same season was unprecedented and much harder to do so than win both Money Lists (as Rory McIlroy had done in 2012 and Luke Donald in 2011) where big performances in the top events count for each. From July onwards Stenson was sensational, quite clearly the best player on the planet. He won three times, was runner-up in The Open, third in the USPGA and closed the season by shooting 17 rounds out of 18 in the 60s.
Young player: Jordan Spieth
Showing promise with a few big performances is one thing. But to start the season with no status after turning pro the previous autumn and end it by playing in the Presidents Cup is quite extraordinary. By winning the John Deere Classic in July, Spieth became the youngest player (19 years, 11 months and 18 days) to win on the PGA Tour since Ralph Guldahl (19 years, 8 months, 3 days) at the 1931 Santa Monica Open. His joint season-high nine top 10s included runner-up finishes at the Puerto Rico Open, Wyndham Championship and the Tour Championship - all that helped him finish seventh in the final FedExCup standings. From a world ranking of 810 in January, Spieth currently resides at No 22 - an incredible rise by a hugely talented young golfer.
Moment of the year: Scott's putt to win The Masters
Australian golf fans had been repeatedly heartbroken by Greg Norman's near-misses in the Masters. So despite watching Adam Scott hole a superb birdie putt at 18 in regulation time, there was a sense of dreaded inevitably when 2009 Masters champ Angel Cabrera made a brilliant birdie of his own soon afterwards to force a play-off. The two slugged it out in thrilling fashion and each played two exceptional shots at the 10th, the second extra hole. Both were in birdie range again but from 15 feet Cabrera's putt just curled past on the high side. So this was the moment. With the time 5.35am back in his native Australia, Scott pulled back his putter, sent the ball towards the hole and it dropped! A wonderful moment of pure winner-takes-all ecstasy.
Best story of the year: Mickelson wins The Open
As much as he tried to convince us he enjoyed it, there was always a sense that links golf baffled Phil Mickelson. With a growing list of flops in the Open Championship, it always seemed that this was the major that would elude him but at Muirfield this year he conquered his golfing Everest. The left-hander had dropped a big hint by winning the previous week's Scottish Open but many remained sceptical he could repeat the feat in a major. Mickelson thought otherwise though. He stayed prominent for the first 54 holes and, when destiny beckoned, seized the Claret Jug with a scintillating final round 66. Lifelong caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay described it as "the best round I've even seen him play."
Shock of the year
Europe had never won the Solheim Cup on American soil and were rated huge underdogs to buck that trend when the tournament headed to Colorado Golf Club. But from the very start Lotte Neumann's team looked as if they meant business and a sensational clean sweep of the Saturday footballs put them 10.5-5.5 in front going into the final day. Still there were fears of a big US fightback in the Sunday singles but Europe were relentless, running out 18-10 winners to inflict a totally unexpected rout. Sweden's Caroline Hedwall won all five points but, for most, the star of the show was 17-year-old English girl Charley Hull, who completed a stunning week by crushing US Solheim Cup queen Paula Creamer 5&4.
Disappointment of the year
Rory McIlroy had swept all before him in 2012, winning a second major title (the US PGA Championship) by the little matter of eight shots and landing Money List titles on both sides of the Atlantic. But in 2013 it all went wrong. Trying to adjust to new Nike equipment proved harder than expected and as the press questioned the wisdom of his switch, the Northern Irishman became embroiled in two multi-million dollar lawsuits, had his private life spread all over Twitter and fuelled the negative publicity by walking off the course after nine holes of March's Honda Classic as his title defence there fell to pieces. He flopped in the majors too, missing the cut by a distance in The Open at Muirfield and becoming the first player to drop from top of the world rankings to No 6 in just nine months.
Crystal ball for 2014
If 2013 was a nightmare for Rory McIlroy, there were at least plenty of positive signs at the end of it as he closed out victory in the Australian Open in Sydney. He's far too talented to be down for long and 2014 could see him bounce back with a bang. Expect a multiple-win season and a big bid for a third major title, perhaps in the US PGA at Valhalla. Adam Scott's record in the majors is fantastic (2-MC-25-7-8-15-2-11-1-45-3-5 since the start of 2011) so he'll surely be a strong contender to follow up his Masters win. If he maintains the incredible form he showed in the second half of 2013, Henrik Stenson has to have a golden chance of winning a first major while others who could make the big breakthrough include Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar. Also keep an eye on young Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson.