We can’t very well usher in the New Year without picking out the most memorable bits of the old, so here are the 5 top memories of 2012. Good ones, bad ones, memorable ones. Well, of course they’re memorable. They’re memories. Anyway, here are mine:
5. Kyle Stanley Melts Down and Then Lights Up – Anyone who saw Stanley’s final-hole meltdown at The Farmers Insurance Open probably had to watch it through their fingers as they buried their faces in their hands. A quick recap for those missed it: 3 strokes up with a 77 yard chip to the 18th green, Stanley finds the water. A penalty stroke and a 3-putt from 45 feet followed. It was excruciating to watch and one wondered if we would ever see Kyle Stanley on the PGA Tour (or in broad daylight) again.
But the following week in Scottsdale, Stanley showed incredible resilience to come from 8 strokes down after 54 holes to win the Phoenix Open. In terms of mental toughness, this ranks Stanley just a little behind Liam Neeson’s character in “Taken”.
4. Not So Great Scott – Australian Adam Scott always wanted to emulate his hero Greg Norman. And Scott paid perfect homage to the Great White Shark by replicating Norman’s famous 1996 Open meltdown at the 2012 Open Championship. 4 up with 4 to play, Scott hit four bogeys to hand victory to Ernie Els by one stroke. A play-off between the two would have consisted of sudden-death over one hole and a medieval joust with their long putters.
3. Rory McIlroy’s Second Major Win is a Major Win – Check out ABC’s “Body of Proof” and have a look at the character Ethan Gross, played by Geoffrey Arend. I think you’ll agree, it would appear that Rory McIlroy is moonlighting as a mortuary assistant! And in August, his slab was certainly getting crowded as he left the rest of the field for dead at the US PGA. McIlroy’s 8-stroke victory surpassed Jack Nicklaus’ 1980 record 7-stroke win and gave the wily young mortuary worker, sorry, Northern Irish golfer his second Major win.
2. Bubba Watson Becomes Blubber Watson – The only water hazard Watson didn’t avoid on his way to his first major victory was the water pouring from his tear ducts as he celebrated victory. And as the tears fell down, you could hear the great Southern drawl of a Georgian “Awwww!” The Augusta course makes men of boys. And if you win The Masters, you get to cry like a girl and nobody minds.
1. The Miracle At Medinah – This will live long in the memories of fans and golfers from both sides of the Atlantic for very different reasons. An American meltdown? A brilliant European comeback? There was much talk of the spirit of Seve Ballesteros, huffing and puffing on the American putts to ensure that they went the wrong side of the lip and tickling the underarms of American golfers during their drives.
The abiding images are from the final round, when European Captain Jose-Maria Olazabal became an emotional wreck. Over the course of a few minutes, he seemed to be imitating Robert Hays landing the plane in “Airplane”, Martin Sheen with jungle fever in “Apocalypse Now”, Paul Giamatti with a Pinot Noir hangover in “Sideways” and Bill Murray in one of several elevators in “Lost in Translation”. After Europe had won, he just looked like Halle Berry at the Oscars.
But, you could see the hurt in the American faces. Losing to Europe felt bad. Losing to any team with Ian Poulter on it felt even worse.
And, of course, Jose Maria Olazabal supplanted Blubber Watson as the most teary-eyed golfer of the 2012 season. And, of course, when you are crying like a girl because you’ve won a game that you are dedicating to a fallen golf legend, nobody minds.
Here’s to more good and bad memories in 2013!