The Year In Review
September 18, 2007
Tiger Woods not surprisingly won top-player honors, but there were other highlights to the first FedEx Cup season
The British Open
It was the one major where Woods did not play well, but Geoff Ogilvy called the conclusion to the Open at Carnoustie, "the best hour of golf on television this year ... even if it wasn't well played." Padraig Harrington went from nearly pulling a Jean Van de Velde to making the best double bogey of the year. Sergio Garcia made the picture of the year when he bent over his belly putter in agony after missing the putt on the 18th green to win the claret jug.
Phil Mickelson leaving Rick Smith for Butch Harmon
Lefty validated the teacher switch by winning the Players -- then coming back from a wrist injury to beat Woods at a memorable Deutsche Bank Championship. And if finally closing out Woods in Boston wasn't enough to make the rivalry the duel of the year, Mickelson put himself into contention for newsmaker of the year by using his victory as a platform to take a shot at Finchem and announce he likely was going to skip the BMW Championship in Chicago.
Woods created a new category by naming Steve Stricker the comeback-to-back player of the year, but the year's best comeback belonged to Oberholser, who returned from a disk injury in his back suffered at Kapalua to nearly qualify for the Tour Championship. He missed the West Coast swing (and couldn't defend his title at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am), but returned with a flourish with a T-4 at the PGA and a T-2 at Boston before a broken bone in his hand forced his withdrawal from the BMW Championship.
Zach Johnson would have won this for the Masters title had he not won the AT&T Classic in Atlanta and finished T-2 at the Tour Championship. But Bateman, who got one of the last cards at Q school, was about as unexpected a winner as you can get. He only played twice the first three months of the season and won the Buick Open in July with a final-hole birdie.
A most competitive category, Weekley proved he was more than the tour's personality of the year. Weekley lit up pressrooms from the Low Country of South Carolina to the Old Country of Scotland. He won at Hilton Head, lost a playoff at the Honda Classic to edge out Hunter Mahan, who notched his first win, had the hottest summer and was picked for the Presidents Cup team, and Aaron Baddeley, who won the FBR Open, led the U.S. Open and BMW Championship through three rounds and finished sixth on the final FedEx Cup points list. Also in contention: K.J. Choi (two wins) and Rory Sabbatini, who had a career year and retained his title as agitator of the year.
Angel Cabrera's 346-yard bazooka on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open
With the failures at the final hole of the 2006 U.S. Open fresh in our minds, Cabrera stepped to the 72nd hole at Oakmont and, with Woods lurking, hit the drive of his life.
Woods' 63 at the PGA Championship
With apologies to Johnson, who shot a tour-best 60 at the Tour Championship last Saturday, and Woody Austin, who shot 62 to win in Memphis, Tiger's 63 in the second round at Southern Hills was the highlight of highlights. The year's best tee-to-green performance was Woods' third round at Oakmont, where he didn't miss a shot but couldn't make many putts, turning a potential 65 into a 69.
Harrington's six-footer for double bogey on the British Open's 72nd hole
It could easily have been Sabbatini's 75-footer for eagle on the eighth green Sunday at Augusta National. Walking with the ball toward the hole, Sabbatini said if his putt slowed down, it would go in -- and it did, giving him a brief piece of the Masters lead. But Harrington's clutch putt, after trying to hand back the claret jug by hitting two water balls on the 18th hole, got him into a playoff. And unlike Sabbatini, Padraig won his first major.
Stricker may have cried more after winning the Barclays, but the 43-year-old Verplank winning the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and tearing up at the absence of his mentor and friend was inspiring. That leaves no awards for Stricker, other than nice guy of the year. But he wins that category every year.