Year In Review
Golf's 15 Biggest Turkeys of 2015
From missed putts to shanked remarks, the people behind golf's worst gaffes of 2015.
November 25, 2015
It wasn't a great year for the Aussie. First he claimed that he had been kidnapped and robbed in Hawaii, only to have stories surface that, in reality, Allenby sustained his injuries during a drunken fall. Then his caddie quit on Allenby mid-round at the Canadian Open. While Allenby counters that he actually fired his caddie, we are taking the looper's side, given Allenby has run through 24 caddies in his professional career.
Not even a dramatic Sunday rally by the U.S. could make this year's Solheim Cup known for anything other than "Gimmegate." At the center of the controversy was Alison Lee, who picked up a short putt prematurely and Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who decided not to give the putt despite pleas from her teammates and even a request from her captain. Pettersen would offer a heartfelt apology the following day on Instagram, but didn't sound nearly as contrite in a Golf Channel interview the following week. This was a missed tap-in at sportsmanship.
As Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz noted, the former caddie's new book Out Of The Rough provided a compelling window into the game by detailing his time working for Tiger Woods and others. But the book was severely undermined by Williams' reference to feeling "like a slave" when working for Woods. The characterization seemed woefully out of touch when compared to the real definition of slavery, even more so when considering Williams was made a wealthy man carrying a bag and reading putts.
Pathetic Craigslist club seller
Plenty of people hawk their clubs on Craiglist, but it was the depressing, spineless nature of this guy's post (Note: We don't have an actual photo of the pathetic sap) that earns him turkey status. Long story short, a man in the Wilmington, Del., region was selling his Mizuno irons for $500 because, as he explains, "I got married a year ago and my wife no longer lets me play golf." We're not sure who we're angrier on behalf of, the men everywhere who expect more resolve out of one of their own, or the wives who have long fought this sort of killjoy reputation.
Congrats to Rory for winning at the DP World Tour Championship and securing the season-long European Tour money title and player-of-the-year honors. However, the victory only makes his mid-year soccer mishap—and subsequent five-week layoff—all the more frustrating. Just as McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were setting up for an epic clash at the British Open at St. Andrews (defending champ vs. winner of the year’s first two majors), McIlroy goes out ruptures ligaments in his left ankle fooling around with his mates. Despite the injury, McIlroy managed to win four times in 2015. Yet the year will still go down as one that McIlroy unnecessarily kicked away.
We feel for the guy. We really do. But as someone who has been less than forthcoming about his health in recent years, Woods' credibility took another couple of hits this year. Woods failed to say anything about his ailing back all season, then announced in a Friday night news dump that he had another microdiscectomy on his back two days earlier. As if that wasn't enough, Woods did the same thing when he announced a follow-up back surgery on a Friday a little more than a month later.
We try to steer clear of politics around Thanksgiving, but we think this is more a common sense issue than it is left vs. right. You'll recall that Trump after announcing his candidacy for president in June called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and "drug dealers," which forced the PGA of America to move its Grand Slam of Golf to somewhere other than Trump National Los Angeles. For a guy whose golf courses are perfectly maintained by many of these same immigrants, it was an unfortunate and misguided choice of words. Plus, the New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump has a plaque at his Northern Virginia course commemorating a Civil War battle that never happened.
Chambers Bay's greens
Ian Poulter called the greens “disgraceful." Even mild-mannered Rory McIlroy chimed in, saying the putting surfaces were like “cauliflower.” There’s no doubting the greens were bumpy, infamously evidenced by Billy Horschel’s reaction on the weekend to a slippery stroke. Equal blame goes to Chambers Bay (for its less-than-ideal dance floors) and the USGA (who failed to account for the terrain) for the U.S. Open set-up.
The World Golf Hall of Fame
Kudos to HOF officials for having the novel idea of holding the induction ceremony for the Class of 2015 at St. Andrews in conjunction with the British Open. But doing so knowing one of your four inductees might have trouble attending was a risky proposition that backfired when Laura Davies couldn’t get to the Monday ceremony. Weather-related travel issues after Davies competed at the U.S. Women’s Open in Pennsylvania the previous day wound up affecting her journey. Even without them, however, it seemed like a pretty big ask to have one of those you’re honoring have to race across continents in order to be present for the once-in-a-lifetime moment.
In trying to defend the integrity of St. Andrews, the R&A’s actions did the opposite. The greens were mowed so short that stationary balls would move in the Scotland gusts. The conditions allowed for only 33 minutes of play for all of Saturday, forcing a Monday finish. Worse, those that braved the course in that brief window paid for it on the scorecard. For one, Jordan Spieth, who missed the playoff by a shot, dropped a shot to the field at the manageable 14th hole during the controversial time.
If looking out for the well being of student-athletes is the top priority of the NCAA, the association sure has a funny way of showing it. In September, NCAA officials announced the SMU men’s golf team would be ineligible for the 2016 postseason due to multiple recruiting infractions committed by former coach Josh Gregory. The punishment seemed unfair given that no player on the current team broke any rule or was complicit in any way with the violations. The ban meant that reigning NCAA individual champion Bryson DeChambeau, a Mustang senior who also won the U.S. Amateur title in August, would not be eligible to defend his title. DeChambeau subsequently decided to leave school to focus on his golf, which includes competing in the Masters next April. “It just makes no sense whatsoever,” Gregory said. “Throw the book at me and give all the penalties to me, but the kids are the ones who suffer. It’s simply garbage.”
The European Tour
Although the European Tour mandates its players compete in 13 sanctioned events, McIlroy was given a reprieve due to his injury absence this summer. It was a call that most players saw as favoritism towards the former No. 1 golfer. "There are still rules there to kind of abide by, otherwise they wouldn't make rules,” said Danny Willett, who finished second to McIlroy in the Race to Dubai. "If rules were allowed to be broken all the time, then there's no point in setting them in the first place." The tour also talked Rich Beem into giving up his spot in the the Hong Kong Open at the last minute so Ian Poulter could play the required number of events necessary to be eligible for next year's Ryder Cup.
Yes, Chambers Bay's greens were a bit suspect, and yes, Johnson played remarkably well for 71½ holes, but he still three-putted on the last green to lose the U.S. Open. From 12 feet. Rough. Factor in his history of major meltdowns, and it makes DJ's gaffe even more alarming.
Keegan Bradley/Miguel Angel Jimenez
We're giving both guys blame for nearly coming to blows during the the WGC-Match Play. Perhaps, Jimenez was a little overzealous in questioning a drop Bradley took on the 18th hole -- especially since neither guy was going to advance in the event anyway -- and he probably shouldn't have told Bradley's caddie, Steve (Pepsi) Hale, to "shut up." That being said, Bradley didn't need to respond like a lunatic, immediately getting in the face of Jimenez, a man 22 years his senior. Fortunately, no punches were thrown, but that didn't mean these guys' reputations didn't take a hit.
The Mystery Pooper
You might want to think twice about booking a golf trip to Norway: for the past 10 years, someone has been pooping in golf cups at a Norwegian course. Disgusting and despicable. God forbid if a player ever sank a hole-in-one at the course, only for their dream to be quickly doused at the discovery of a No. 2.