Golf rarely fails to excite these days, and 2021 was no exception. From a pair of feuding teammates to duels for titles and honours to yet another fairytale comeback, the year that passed had a little bit of everything.
For two years Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have been embroiled in a bitter online feud.
The pair continued to trade jabs on social media in 2021 and the fans even got in on the act, with cries of ‘Brooksy’ becoming a regular occurrence at tournaments. The two Major champions were kept apart at tournaments despite fans yearning to see them duel it out on the course and were even denied a Brooks-Bryson pairing at the Ryder Cup.
As hope of a Brooks v Bryson showdown were fading, Capital One stepped in to save the day, and November 26 was the day we would see the pair settle their differences by doing what they do best at The Match.
The affair was tense and a little awkward, but the comedic styles of Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley brought some much-needed jocularity to the event. In the end Bryson walked away s the winner and the pair reaffirmed their respect for each other despite their aversion to one another.
Some believe the shared dislike to be genuine in nature but since the introduction of the PGA Tours Player Impact Program (a $40million fund based on an impact score calculated by factors such as FedEx Cup rank, Google search popularity, brand exposure, social media engagement), others have grown sceptical of the true intention of their public spat. One thing that is for certain is that their bickering has provided a ton of entertainment.
WHOSE YEAR WAS IT?
Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm took home the PGA Tour Player of the Year and the PGA of America Player of the Year respectively but who did 2021 really belong to.
Rahm finally broke his Major duck, winning the US Open, returned to the pinnacle of the world golf rankings, topped the PGA Tour Money Lis, finished second in the FedEx Cup standings and ended third in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings. By all accounts that would have been enough to win all the awards on offer but for the results from Cantlay.
Cantlay picked up four titles in 2021, two more than anyone else, including back-to-back wins to close out the season at the BMW and Tour championships which saw him win the FedEx Cup and he finished behind Rahm on the Money List.
The fact that each of them won an accolade could be considered the fairest result considering the years they had but depending on which side of the fence you sit, either could have easily been awarded both honours.
An honourable mention must go out to Colin Morikawa who claimed the second Major of career, the 2021 Open Championship, won the WGC Workday Championship at the concession, finished the FedEx Cup regular season atop the rankings and won the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. Despite missing out on the honours in 2021 he could be the one to watch in 2022.
LADIES GAME STRONGER THAN EVER
Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda set the golfing world alight in 2021 with displays of power, accuracy and composure.
There was little to separate the world No 1 and No 2 this season but there was arguably plenty to separate them from the rest of their rivals, with Ko picking up 5 LPGA Tour titles and Korda winning three LPGA Tour titles one Major and an Olympic gold medal.
The pair were the top two on the Money List, the Scoring Average chart, as well as Player of the year Rankings and both were in the top 5 for the most top-10 finishes.
Ko shaded her rival in the Money List, top-10 finishes which ultimately earned the Player of the year award (points awarded for top-10 finishes at LPGA Tour events and Majors), though Korda finished just 14 points behind.
Both ladies playing sublime golf but the stat of the season, which further entrenches Ko as the player to beat heading into 2022, is the mind-boggling 63 consecutive Greens-in-regulation the Korean hit en route to winning the season ending CME Group Tour Championship. To put that stat into perspective no player has broken the 50+ GIR mark since 1995 and nobody has ever gotten to 63.
With the likes of the 2021 Major winners – Yuka Saso, Nelly Korda, Anna Nordqvist, Patty Tavatanakit, Minjee Lee – and the re-emergence of the likes of Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Ariya Jutanugarn the sport of women’s golf is healthier and more competitive than it has ever been.
BEERS, BOMBS AND BRAGGING RIGHTS
Everything you need to know about the 2021 Ryder Cup can be summed up by Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas chugging beers at the crowd’s behest.
The spectators were brash, Team USA were ruthless, and golf was scintillating… Team Europe never stood a chance.
Coming onto the week Padraig Harrington might have rated his chances of leading the Europeans to victory. It seemed however that the boys in red, white and blue had other ideas. When the guys are pulling off sublime shots like Jordan Spieth’s miraculous recovery from 12-feet below the level of the green and Bryson DeChambeau driving the green and then converting the eagle putt, one would be forgiven for thinking Team USA were destined for glory.
So domineering was the USA’s 19-9 victory over Europe that even brought arch enemies Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka together. The feuding teammates were captured on camera as they shared an embrace during the celebrations.
Team Europe will be smarting from the humiliation which can only bode well for the next edition where they will surely come out firing and with a point to prove.
CHARLIE: A KID OR A CUB?
For the second year in a row people all around the world tuned in to watch a kid swing a golf club and for the second year in a row they were not disappointed.
Charlie Wood might only be 12 years old but already has the attention of the entire globe and it is not just because his father is the GOAT but it is also because his game, swagger and confidence is the spitting image of his sire.
11 birdies in succession saw Team Woods finish second to Team Daly at the PNC Championship with the son of the GOAT stealing the headlines ahead of his dad who’s return from injury, that almost cost him his right leg, would have garnered much more attention had it not been for the superstar in the making.
The only question left to be answered about Charlie is whether to refer to him as the kid of the GOAT or the cub of the Tiger.