Ewen Murray selects more standout moments from a memorable 2017 in golf
Last Updated: 24/12/17 8:58am
Ewen Murray continues his look back at the most memorable moments of a hectic 2017 and selects his award of the year.
Europe is the centre of focus in July and Tommy Fleetwood won the second Rolex Series event with some fine play at Le Golf National. The French Open was his second title of an impressive year.
Portstewart in Northern Ireland was next and no one could match Jon Rahm's quality. Having won at Torrey Pines on the PGA Tour in February, the Spaniard opened his account in fine style on European soil.
The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open followed, which should have been Calum Shinkwin's maiden European Tour title. A mistake on the final hole allowed another Spanish win in the shape of Rafa Cabrera Bello. From there, it was onwards to Royal Birkdale and an Open to savour.
Where does one begin here? Rory McIlroy was five over par through eight holes yet finished well, although never challenged. Branden Grace shot a 62 for the first time ever in a major.
It reminded us of Roger Bannister's four-minute mile, where so many had come close but never managed it. Haotong Li shot a final-round 63 and gave China its highest position in a major. Then there was Jordan Spieth, with him and Matt Kuchar neck and neck going into the final six holes.
"The Open showed drama and emotion, sportsmanship our game is renowned for, as well as moments of sheer golfing brilliance that will go down in history."
What we witnessed on the 13th was something that no Hollywood scriptwriter could come up with. There was the block off the tee, the drop on the range, the manufacturer's truck in the way, the blind third shot.
Then we had the miraculous escape, the amazing pitch and a courageous putt, which after over half an hour produced the bogey of the season. The apology to Kuchar showed class, the tee shot at the following par three was my shot of the year. After what went on before, how does one produce that?
Some will say the eagle on the 15th was as impressive, but I could watch that tee shot at 14 for hours. It was the shot of an outstanding champion.
August presented Japan with its second WGC title, as Hideki Matsuyama blitzed his way to a final-round 61 to take the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC.
It was strange missing the PGA Championship after 23 straight years. I saw little of it, but enough to celebrate the win of Justin Thomas who was on his way to player-of-the-year honours. His win at Quail Hollow in Charlotte made it three rookie wins in the major season. In a tie for second was Louis Oosthuizen, which presented him with the grand slam of runner-up places in majors.
The FedExCup play-offs produced what they were designed for - excitement. Another first-timer won at historic East Lake in Atlanta, as Xander Schauffele upstaged them all at the Tour Championship.
Justin Thomas won the golden pot of 10 million dollars, and along with Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger and some other young guns, the USA demoralised the International team, winning the Presidents Cup by the banks of the Hudson in New Jersey.
It was now the European Tour's turn to exhibit their finale, and what a story that turned out to be! The Alfred Dunhill Links was much maligned after its birth, but year in, year out it has provided superb entertainment.
Ross Fisher had a chance of 59 at the Home of Golf. Many were hoping that surely couldn't happen. It didn't, but 61 around the 'Old Lady' was mighty impressive - almost as much as Tyrrell Hatton's successful defence.
The following week, Tyrrell would go onto win my favourite event of the European season, the Italian Open. Strangely enough, he would dispose of the unfortunate Ross Fisher for the second successive week.
The World Golf Championship season ended in faraway Shanghai. At the exclusive Sheshan International, Justin Rose took full advantage of a collapse from Dustin Johnson and, in doing so, gave himself the chance of catching Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai. That chance was further enhanced when the former US Open champion captured the Turkish Airlines Open seven days later.
Grace enjoyed a home victory at Sun City, winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge. That victory made him the seventh different winner in seven Rolex Series events. The year-long race went down to the wire at the Earth Course in Dubai.
By the sands of Jumeirah Estates, the DP World Tour Championship played over the Greg Norman-designed course provided a Sunday afternoon of unforgettable drama. Rose continued his white-hot form and looked to have both titles locked up with seven holes remaining.
The benefactor of Johnson's meltdown in China, it was roles reversed as he handed the DP World to Rahm and the Race to Dubai to Fleetwood. Rahm also took the Rookie of the Year award and Tommy, after a tumultuous season, was the new European No 1.
Ewen's 2017 awards:
Round of the year - Hideki Matsuyama's final round at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational - Firestone has proved more than a test down the years to all of the golfing greats, but an amazing burst of figures over the closing holes saw him blow the field away and gave him his second World Golf Championship.
Shot of the year - Jordan Spieth's tee shot at the 14th at The Open - After all that went on moments earlier, somehow Spieth regained his composure, concentration and belief. It was a shot of outstanding quality at a time when many a fine golfer would have buckled.
It was where he changed the course of the Championship, where he turned defeat into victory. Holding the Claret Jug by the iconic Birkdake clubhouse, he must have thought for a moment, it was where he turned water into wine.
Tournament of the year - The Masters and The Open - Hard to separate, as they had everything we hope for from a spectator's point of view. They showed drama and emotion, sportsmanship our game is renowned for, as well as moments of sheer golfing brilliance that will go down in history.
2017 has been quite a year. Next month we will look ahead to what 2018 may bring…