Sunday, December 23, 2007

Golf: 2007 Year in Review (Part 2)

By Jim Brighters, Sports Network, The Sports Network


ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Denis Watson Runner up - Angela Park, Fred Funk

If you win a major championship as a rookie, congrats, you get the nod.

Park was beyond impressive. At the ripe age of 19, Park posted eight top 10s en route to over $1 million and eighth place on the final LPGA Tour money list.

But Watson won a major.

Funk was a contemporary of Watson's on the Champions Tour and a winner on the elder circuit. Heck, Funk even won with the boys on the PGA Tour and did it battling back pain.

But Watson won a major.

At the Senior PGA Championship, Watson rallied on the back nine to overtake Eduardo Romero. It was Watson's first win of any kind in 23 years and led to Watson getting his name on the ballot for Champions Tour Player of the Year.

Don't forget he also tasted victory in a historic event. At the Boeing Classic, Watson eagled the second playoff hole to win the title. Not a big deal you say?

Consider he had to beat six other golfers in the playoff, which was the largest in tour history. A second win validated the first and made Watson an impact player on the Champions Tour.

And Watson won a major.

TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR - British Open Championship Runners Up - Masters, Nabisco Championship, Deutsche Bank Championship.

When the British Open returned to Carnoustie, Jean van de Velde began scheduling the interviews. (He allegedly charged a fee for some.)

For it was on this piece of Scottish real estate some eight years prior, this fun Frenchman, a moderately successful journeyman, became not just golf's, but all of sports', punch line.

He made such a mess of the 18th at Carnoustie (finding the burn, then trying to hit out of it), that he ended up blowing a three-shot lead thanks to his triple-bogey.

Fast forward to 2007 and the tale of Padraig Harrington. The Irishman held a one-shot lead over Sergio Garcia and watched his drive at 18 bounce twice before falling into the burn.

After a drop, Harrington hit his third shot into water guarding the front of the green. All totaled, it was a double-bogey and now Harrington was one behind Garcia.

The Spaniard found the fairway then had to wait. And wait. He waited a lot, then found a bunker with his second. Garcia blasted out to six feet and had that putt for the claret jug.

He missed, so it was on to a playoff.

Harrington won to become the first European to win a major since? Paul Lawrie, who took the playoff at Carnoustie nine years prior.

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