As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest storylines in golf over the past twelve months. The game lost one of its idols in Arnold Palmer, but potentially regained another with Tiger’s return to golf. The U.S. re-captured the Ryder Cup and Dustin Johnson captured a major for the first time, but Europeans won the Masters and British Open. Golf even managed a return to the Olympics, though mosquitoes kept many of the game’s best away.
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The biggest golf story of the year has to be the passing of Arnold Palmer, who is considered one of the greatest golfers of all time. Palmer died on September 25, at the age of 87, before the start of the Ryder Cup matches.
Palmer is credited with helping golf become a mainstream sport. Off the course, he was considered one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors due to his personality and grace. Golf fans will always remember him as one of the sport’s greatest champions.
USA Wins the Ryder Cup
After losing eight of their last 10 Ryder Cups and three consecutive, the American team finally ended its losing streak to its European counterparts. The feat was even more impressive because the team, which was led in the past by veterans like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, was able to get the win thanks to the younger stars like Patrick Reed, who defeated former number one Rory McIlroy.
Dustin Johnson’s Redemption
After stepping away from the sport to deal with personal issues, Johnson returned to play the best golf of his career. After a disappointing finish to the 2015 U.S. Open, in which he blew a lead in the final round, Johnson bounced back to win the U.S. Open in 2016, also earing the Player of the Year award.
Tiger Woods Returned To Competitive Golf
Since Woods won the Player of the Year Award in 2013, he has been plagued with injuries that forced him to withdraw from tournaments and take some significant time off. After sitting out most of the 2015 season, Woods made his return to competitive golf this fall.
As Expected, there was a lot of rust in his game, but having him back performing on the golf course was great for the sport. Despite Woods being a polarizing figure, he is also a ratings magnet because people are interested in seeing how he performs, with some hoping to see flashes of the old Tiger.
Woods’ return left a lot of questions about how much he still has left in the tank unanswered, but from what we saw, he is still capable of doing great things on a golf course.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem Stepped Down
Although he has endured various criticisms during his tenure, Finchem is responsible for the growth that golf has experienced as a sport in the last 22 years.
Finchem took over the job in 1994, after Deane Beaman’s five year run ended. Since taking over golf’s top spot, Finchem (with some help from Tiger Wood’s popularity) was able to escalate tournament purses from $56.4 million in 1994, to $256.8 by 2006.
The fact that advertisers also viewed the PGA as a safe place to invest, due to the fact that golfers didn’t get in trouble with the law as much as other professional athletes do, and brought less negative attention on the sport.