Golf review 2016: USA regain the Ryder Cup, Henrik Stenson has a year to remember and Arnold Palmer dies

A review of the golfing year in 2016

Jack de Menezes
Saturday 24 December 2016 15:48 GMT
The American Ryder Cup team celebrate their victory
The American Ryder Cup team celebrate their victory (Getty)


Europe wins EurAsia Cup

January is never a great time for the golf world, with few competitions taking place as the players take the chance to recharge the batteries before the onslaught begins once again. However, the EurAsia Cup represented a chance for a number of Ryder Cup hopefuls to get a taste of what playing for Darren Clarke would be like, with the Northern Irishman honing his captaincy skills in Malaysia. The likes of Danny Willett, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter all helped Europe to secure a dominant 18.5-5.5 victory.


Bubba beats kidney stone to win in LA

The first telling story of the year comes not in Bubba Watson’s miraculous victory at the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Why was it miraculous? Well, not only did Watson hold off Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy to triumph, but he also had to pass a kidney stone along the way. In his own words: “My baby came out, I guess.”


Day on top of the world

Australian Jason Day hits the top of the world rankings after claiming victory in the WGC Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club, Texas, to overtake Jordan Spieth as the world No 1. Having won the final major of 2015 and maintaining his form through the start of 2016, Day looks certain for more major success throughout the year, but it isn’t to be.

Jason Day clinched the world No 1 spot 

 Jason Day clinched the world No 1 spot 


Willet wears the green jacket as Hull misses out

Danny Willett pulls off a stunning victory at the Masters to win the first major of the year after a dramatic collapse for Spieth, who led the first three rounds and took a five-shot lead onto the back nine, only to drop six shots over the space of the next three holes. Willett held his nerve while Spieth fell victim to Rae’s Creek, and the Sheffield native became the first Englishman to wear the green jersey since Nick Faldo in 1996. Britain nearly celebrated a double success, as Charlie Hull finished one shot behind ANA Inspiration champion Lydia Ko in the first women’s major of the year.


Muirfield loses Open status after membership shame

In what was a forgettable moment for golf, Muirfield hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It’s members voted in favour of allowing female members, but it did not reach the two-thirds threshold that would allow women to join the club. The prehistoric decision resulted in the R&A stripping Muirfield of its Open status, meaning it would no longer be in contention to host the British Open in a rotation cycle. A second vote was due before the end of the year, but has not yet taken place.


Johnson gets the monkey off his back

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That was the story of Dustin Johnson’s career until this year’s US Open when the American had to battle the weather as well as the rest of the field. After completing the first round on day two, Johnson took the lead late in the second round, though Irishman Shane Lowry fought back to take a four-shot lead into the final round. It once again looked like Johnson would fall short, having finished second, fourth and fifth at the Open, Masters and PGA Championship respectively. This time it would be different though, and despite taking a penalty for his ball moving after he addressed it, he saw off Lowry, Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy to win by three shots.


Supreme Stenson wins The Open

It initially looked like Phil Mickelson would be unstoppable at Royal Troon after equalling the record lowest round at a major with a 63, and he maintained the lead through to the halfway stage. However, Stenson had clawed back the deficit and took the lead early on day three in what was quickly becoming a two-horse race, and what followed was one of the greatest duels seen in major history. The pair exchanged the lead repeatedly, but Stenson hit his stride on the back-nine with three consecutive birdies and went on to post a new record aggregate score at a major in the process, beating Mickelson by three shots.

Henrik Stenson poses with the Claret Jug after winning The Open at Royal Troon
Henrik Stenson poses with the Claret Jug after winning The Open at Royal Troon (Getty)


Furyk makes history

Phil Mickelson had the chance to card a record round of 62 at Royal Troon, only for his final putt to stay agonisingly afloat. American Jim Furyk made no mistake the following month though, as he went one better – or four better depending on how you look at it – by record the lowest ever round in PGA Tour history by carding a 58 at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.


Arnold Palmer dies as Rose takes Rio gold

Arnold Palmer died at the age of 87 

 Arnold Palmer died at the age of 87 

For the first time in 112 years, golf returned to the Olympic Games as Rio 2016 took centre stage. A number of high-profile withdrawals blighted the build-up to the tournament, with the top four in the world in Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy all deciding not to travel to Brazil. But once the action began, it was a moment to remember for Britain’s Justin Rose as he clinched the gold medal after a battle with the in-form Stenson and America’s Matt Kuchar. However, the end of the month would bring the saddest news as golf legend Arnold Palmer died on 25 September at the age of 87.


USA regain the Ryder Cup

The battle between the United States and Europe reignited in the form of the Ryder Cup, with the Americans more confident than ever that they would end their poor record in the competition. They had Tiger Woods back in their ranks, albeit as a vice-captain, while Davis Love III looked to have made the right calls with his selection and preparations for the competition at Hazeltine. What followed was a dominant display from the USA, and despite the best efforts of McIlroy, Stenson and breakthrough star Thomas Pieters, USA would lead from the beginning and secure a record 17-11 victory.


Fantastic Fitzpatrick as Stenson wins Race to Dubai

The DP World Tour Championship in Dubai brought an end to the European Tour season, and it was once again Stenson who would be the man of the moment. The Swede was unable to secure the tournament victory though, as that honour went to young Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick as he bounced back from his harrowing Ryder Cup experience. However, it was Stenson who would not be denied in winning the Race to Dubai, and with it the $1.25m prize money that came with it.


Woods returns

After missing nearly the entire year, there was a smile on the face of Tiger Woods as he returned at the Hero World Challenge in The Bahamas after 15 months out following back surgery. A modest start of one-over par was followed by a fabulous seven-under on day two as Woods enjoyed himself out on the course, and while he could only muster rounds of 70 and 76 across the weekend it was still a delight to see Tiger Woods back on the course. His intention? To be a major winner once more in 2017.

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