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Swings and Ryder bouts: Golfing review of 2012

Gareme McDowell came close, Rory McIlroy won a major by eight strokes again and Team Europe rallied from face-down on the canvas.

Ian Poulter reacts to a clutch putt disappearing into the 16th hole at Medinah.
Ian Poulter reacts to a clutch putt disappearing into the 16th hole at Medinah.
Image: AP Photo/Chris Carlson

LOOKING BACK OVER the major golfing events of 2012 and, out of all the winners and last-hole chokers, the name David Lynn stands out.

The 39-year-old from Merseyside, who beat Paul McGinley to a solitary European Tour win in 2004, now holds the distinction of coming closest to Rory McIlroy as he won his second major title – that is if you consider eight strokes back to be close.

The three other majors were one-stroke victories but nothing comes close to matching the drama, terror and sheer excitement of the 39th Ryder Cup.

Here are your golfing winners of 2012:

The Masters

The tussle for the green jacket came down to a sudden-death play-off after Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen finished level on -10.

The South African was three strokes back at the beginning of the final round but started his charge with an amazing albatross on the par 5 second hole. Phil Mickelson and Peter Hanson were in the final pairing but could not find birdie putts for love nor money.

Watson, unleashing monster shots from the tee with his pink driver, reeled off four consecutive birdies to join Oosthuizen at -10 but pars were all they could muster over the last two holes.

The likeable, and excitable, American missed a birdie putt on the first play-off hole but, with his opponent in trouble off the tee, Watson pulled off the approach shot of the year to set up his first major win.


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US Open

Michael Thompson, a 27-year-old from Arizona, dominated day one with a -4 round of 66 but Graeme McDowell, US Open winner in 2010, was just three shots back.

Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium served a notice of intent with a 69 on day two but the golfing world got very excited over the sight of Tiger Woods sharing the halfway lead. A disastrous third round saw Woods drop off the radar and it was McDowell and Jim Furyk leading going into the final day.

The duo shot 73 and 74 respectively and it was left to Webb Simpson, 27, to swoop in for his first major win. Simpson’s putting was close to immaculate over the weekend and he finished with two rounds of 68 to win the trophy by one stroke.

The Open

Adam Scott’s rounds at Royal Lytham went like this: 64, 67, 68, 75.

The Australian led by four strokes going into the final round on Sunday but he bogeyed each of the final four holes to open the door for steady Ernie Els to win his fourth major.

Scott had a par putt from 8-feet on the final hole but missed it to the left. Els was -4 on the back nine and his one stroke win ended an eight-year wait for a major.


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PGA Championship

Carl Petterson of Sweden led the way after day one but Rory McIlroy kept in touch and was only two shots back, from Petterson, Woods and Vijay Singh, after battling to a hot and cold 75 on day two.

A thunderstorm disrupted the third round but, by that stage, McIlroy and Singh were out in front. The Northern Irishman saved par that day on the third after his ball became lodged in a tree.

McIlroy closed out his third round for 67 and hit two birdies in the first three holes to give serious momentum to his title drive.

Ian Poulter and Justin Rose posed brief threats but McIlroy was imperious and he closed out his round of 66 with a 20-foot birdie putt that sent the watching galleries into raptures.

Ryder Cup

Watson, Simpson and McIlroy converged on Medinah Country Club a month later to contest the 39th Ryder Cup.

Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson were the stars of the first day’s action as they destroyed Team Europe reliables Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia in the foursomes and followed it up with a 2&1 fourball win over McIlroy and McDowell. The USA led 5-3 after the morning and afternoon sessions.

The Americans then anihilated Donald and Lee Westwood 7&6 in the Saturday morning foursomes and, by 5pm local time, the home team led 10-4.

Garcia and Donald delivered a much-needed point against Woods and a misfiring Steve Stricker before Ian Poulter, partnered by McIlroy, sank a trio of clutch putts over the closing holes to stun Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. Going into Singles Sunday, the USA led 10-6.

An emotional Jose Maria Olazabal at the finale of the Ryder Cup. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Americans led off with their 2012 major winners, Watson and Simpson, and followed up with Bradley and Mickelson but Europe also stacked their deck.

Over the course of a topsy-turvy afternoon, Europe looked a punched ticket but putts and chips started to ring in from all over the course. Donald was the first to get Europe a point, followed soon after by McIlroy and Paul Lawrie.

The US Johnsons of Zach and Dustin fought back after Rose downed Mickelson and it was left to Germany’s Martin Kaymer to sink a six-foot par putt to capture the trophy for Europe.

Team captain Jose Maria Olazabal was ecstatic with the result and fought back tears at the presentation ceremony to deliver a memorable speech dedicated to his compatriot and friend, the late Seve Ballesteros.

Women’s pro tour

There was a distinctly Asian feel to the ladies’ major winners in 2012 on the LPGA Tour.

Sun-Young Yoo and Na Yeon Choi of South Korea won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and US Open respectively, while Shanshan Feng of China became her country’s first major winner when she clinched the LPGA crown in June.

In September, Jiyai Shin of South Korea blitzed the British Open field by nine strokes to win her second career major.

*What was your favourite golfing memory of 2012?

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