Year 2012 was a season of ups and downs, young guys and old guys, long-putters and short putters.
There was the emergence of Rory McIlroy.
There was the resurgence -- almost -- of Tiger Woods.
“The Question Mark,” “Sweden,” “Opie Taylor,” “The Golf Boys,” “The Big Easy,” “Two Gloves,” “Olé, Olé, Olé,” "The Year of the Moustache” and “Lumpy” all made news in one way or another.
Each year, we are fascinated by trends, fashion, clubs, Twitter, caddies, whatever international team competition falls in that cycle and how the players playing the game react, adapt and excel throughout the season.
In this look back at 2012, I have one eye on the prize and one eye on what it means in our world of Fantasy Golf.
Strap on your helmets. Grab the last box of Twinkies. Buckle your seatbelt.
The Rotoworld Time Machine has been set to “Ludicrous Speed” but Ludacris is not coming with us on our journey so we’ll have to entertain ourselves!
Let’s see what we learned in 2012!
The four majors are the four times each season that our chats, emails and interactions with you the fantasy reader blow up in a good way. Sure, the World Golf Championships provide us with great fields but no matter how hard the PGA TOUR tries to shove those down our throats, the four majors are still the Don of the TOUR season.
We learned over the past few years that the majors were almost IMPOSSIBLE to project. Until Rory McIlroy won the PGA this year, there were 17 different champions in 17 majors dating back to Padraig Harrington’s British Open (i.e. The Open Championship, I know, calm down) and PGA Championship double in 2008. Of those 17 winners, 13 were first-timers. That’s almost impossible to believe, let alone project!
• This year started out like the last three seasons of majors ended with another first-time winner. Bubba Watson showed off all his shots at the Masters on a shot-makers course and showed plenty of nerve to win his first-ever major in a playoff over a former major champion, Louis Oosthuizen.
Remember, Watson faded down the stretch at Doral just a few weeks before this, losing out to Justin Rose at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Watson also was second-best to Martin Kaymer in a playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
The interesting part about Watson’s victory was he was doing this in the middle of adopting a child!
#Bubbagolf went on to have an outstanding year as he made 16 cuts that resulted in 16 top 25s. He bought the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. He made a ridiculous video with his buddies known as the “Golf Boys.” And he was building his new family. #Urwelcome 2012!
• After an incredible 2011, many felt that Webb Simpson would not be able to back up to those numbers. Well, they were right, but Simpson would trade the extra $3 million that he pocketed in 2011 for the U.S. Open trophy he won in 2012 in a heartbeat.
Simpson, of long putter, reinforced his “total game” résumé in a tournament that tests the entire bag and the entire brain. Simpson’s stats don’t jump out and tell the story but his victory on Sunday at Olympic Club was all the proof that was needed for me to believe that 2011 was not a fluke. Remember, he took almost eight weeks off in July and August to be with his wife for the birth of their second child so his number of tournaments was down in 2012.
• The madness continued through July. “The Big Easy” secured a victory for the “old guns” as he lifted the Claret Jug for the second time in his career.
The story about Ernie Els EARLIER in 2012 was that he wasn’t even eligible to play in the Masters. He had a chance at the Transitions Championship but faded down the stretch (T5) and led to THAT interview with Steve Sands. Awkward.
Els was also hanging around at the Arnold Palmer before a Sunday 75 knocked him back to T4. He had five top 10s through The Open championship and not one afterwards. However, as Els showed, with his excellent ball-striking (and, interestingly enough, his long putter), he could still be a factor in his 40s on TOUR. His T2 earlier this month at the WGC-HSBC Champions shows that.
• After 17 consecutive majors with a different winner, it’s no surprise that the double Player of the Year was the man to break the streak.
Rory McIlroy is now halfway to the career grand slam as he added the 2012 PGA Championship to his 2011 U.S. Open. He ended this season as the leading money winners on both the PGA TOUR and the European Tour. He ended as the No. 1 player in the world according to the OWGR. He’s dating a tennis superstar. Oh, and he’s won both of his majors by EIGHT shots.
His victory at Kiawah Island was another master class as his game was on another level. Remember, this was the same golfer that was “struggling” in May, June and July before he won his major and TWO events in the FedExCup Playoffs. The $200 million-Nike-to-be man found a “new” buddy in Tiger Woods this year but he, not Tiger Woods, is the “face of the franchise” now.