Best of golf from 2019: Looking at the top player, moment, shot, tournament and more
A lot (like, a LOT) happened over the last 11 months
Another year has come and nearly gone, and golf is mostly (!) over for 2019. With just the Hero World Challenge and Presidents Cup remaining, it's time to look back at some year-end superlatives.
I had to dig a little deep into the archives for a few of these, but here's a look at some of the craziest, most fun and most absurd things that happened in professional golf over the last year.
Best player -- Rory McIlroy: It is what it is. He won four times and gained more OWGR points than anyone else in the world. His stokes-gained number was best on the PGA Tour, and he stayed healthy all year. Is the major record what you want it to be? Probably not for somebody of his caliber, but I think we've probably swung too far in the direction of judging players only by what they do in majors and not enough by what they do everywhere else. And everywhere else, McIlroy was tops.
Best tournament -- Masters: Is there any other answer? There are one million things I think about when I think about the Masters. Something different every time. I'll be sitting at my desk on a random Tuesday, and all of a sudden I'll randomly think, It is insane that Tiger Woods won the Masters. The moment for me will always be the tee shot at No. 16 when he almost made a one to secure his fifth green jacket. That honestly would have gone down as the greatest golf shot in all of history had it fallen. Ludicrous.
Best moment -- Shane Lowry taking The Open: I don't know why, but this one hit me deeper than Tiger's win at Augusta. Hear me out, Tiger's moment with his kids on the 18th Augusta was an all-timer. But Tiger's had a lot of all-time moments. Shane Lowry? He might only get one, and he woke up Sundayto win major championships. That's real.
Best non-winning moment -- Rory missing the cut at Royal Portrush: Again, I get that it's easy to make fun of, but anytime we get to see the vulnerable side of Rory's personality is a win for everybody in golf.
Craziest stat -- Koepka's major run: This is just an absolute joke.
Biggest leap -- Xander Schauffele: He did the Luka Doncic thing last season. He went from really good to elite in the span of a year. He's not talked about nearly enough, which is maybe understandable given the immense personalities in the game these days, but no top-50 player improved himself more last season than Schauffele, and he was already a contender at every important tournament.
Fall MVP -- Brendon Todd: I suppose it has to be Todd after he nearly shut down the PGA Tour by going W-W-W in three straight. It's also tough for me not to mention Jon Rahm, who sizzled basically from the U.S. Open on. Todd, though, was outside the top 1,000 in the world after the U.S. Open. Now? He's No. 72.
Most enjoyable drama -- Slow play: I got tired of the Matt Kuchar stuff from about 5 minutes after it went down. I got tired of the hollering about decimal points on drivers nearly as quickly. I don't think I'll ever tire of the idea of Brooks Koepka (and many other top-10 guys) wanting to throw down with the J.B. Holmes' and Bryson DeChambeau's of the world.
Best venue -- Royal Portrush: It was magnificent. More Opens at Royal Portrush. Every Open is so special, and every open venue is so good, but to go to a place where they haven't gone in seven decades and see some of those scenes again ... I couldn't get enough.
A rivalry I can get into -- Brooks Koepka vs. Rory McIlroy: I'm in deep. Rory is the lovable icon. Koepka the thrashing new-money mega-star. Their demeanors and personalities are wildly different. Rory affable and funny. Koepka quiet and more biting. But they both possess whatever it is you have to possess to win four major championships on a variety of tracks with the best in the world trying to upend you. I need one (at least one?) Sunday showdown at a major in 2020 between these two. Preferably the first one. You know, since we haven't had an unbelievable Masters in such a long time.
Woods will play with his partner from Round 1 on Friday in the Bahamas
Find out when and how to watch the 2019 Hero World Challenge live this week
Reed has a host of challengers ready to give chase in the Bahamas