Rob Lee picks his player, breakout star and tournament of the 2012 golfing season
Rob Lee trawls through the archives and picks the golfing highlights of 2012. Do you agree with him?
Last Updated: 19/12/12 1:10pm
Europe retained the Ryder Cup at the end of a gripping four days in Chicago, Rory McIlroy showed his class by winning the USPGA Championship by eight strokes, while Ernie Els rolled back time to scoop his second Open Championship at the age of 42.
Sky Sports presenter and skysports.com columnist Rob Lee has reported on much of the drama and has selected his highlights of 2012. Read below to see what caught his eye...
Player of the Year - Rory McIlroy
Rory had a sticky patch in the middle of the year and missed three straight cuts but he won five tournaments in all, including back-to-back FedEx Cup events, the DP World Tour Championship - after birdieing the last five holes - and the USPGA Championship by eight strokes. He roared on all cylinders, towards the end of the season especially. His greatest achievement was winning his second Major, as while good players can win one, only great players get two or more of them - and no-one can win their first two by eight strokes. I think McIlroy has learned to turn up and win when he is not quite on his A-game - something all the great players learn to do - and I don't see him looking back now.
Breakout Star of the Year - Branden Grace
Ricardo Santos, who won the Madeira Islands Open in May, was named as the official Rookie of the Year, but I can't look beyond Grace, who celebrated his maiden season on the European Tour by winning four events, as well as one on the South African Sunshine Tour; his achievements were staggering, but he is a very able and exciting young player. Grace is very aggressive on the course - a trait that many of the South African stars possess - and he is a streaky putter; when he is on form, he makes a lot of birdies. He needs to look at his countrymen, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who have both won Majors and try to emulate them, because he is certainly good enough to.
Tournament of the Year - Ryder Cup
It's easy to say the Ryder Cup - but it was! For two days the Americans were so dominant, so relaxed and had learnt how to deal with the crowd and even when Ian Poulter went on that birdie blitz on the Saturday, it was still 10-6 to the home team. But as Sunday afternoon wore on, and especially after Justin Rose holed that 35-foot putt at 17 in his match with Phil Mickelson - a distance from which he would usually have three putted - you started to believe, whilst still knowing it was unlikely to happen - but then we won, with Martin Kaymer, under a heap of pressure and off the back of a disappointing run of form, nailing the decisive putt. It was a truly remarkable victory.
Shot of the Year - Tiger Woods' chip-in at the Memorial
I was in the studio for the Memorial at Muirfield Village and when Tiger holed at the par-three 16th in the final round, me and my guests jumped out of our seats like little boys. It was a tremendous shot in its own right but the fact it set Tiger on the way to his fifth career victory in the event made it even more special. The pin position was horrific on the final day and no-one else had got close to it, so to hole it from about 50 feet and make two when it looked like he would make four and see his title hopes quashed, was astonishing. Nobody has, if I can say, had more 'Tiger' moments than Woods in the game of golf; he has more than 10 great careers put together - and he is not finished yet. He won three tournaments this year and rose back up to world number two, all whilst some doom-mongers were saying he was finished, and he will be right in the Major hunt next year.
Players to watch out for in 2013 - Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter
Rory is under pressure after what all the great things he has achieved this year and as he has changed his clubs people will be dying to say: 'I told you so' if it goes wrong. If McIlroy has another year similar to this, even if it not quite as good, it will be an outstanding achievement - but I think that will happen and his upward curve, which looks to have no limits, will continue. I also think Poulter (pictured) might win a Major; he was sensational in the Ryder Cup, and then he won the WGC-HSBC Champions after that and the next thing for him is a Major championship - and it may turn out that he gets one before Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey.
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