Wrapping up the wildest, most tumultuous 12 months in PGA Tour historical past

Essentially the most tumultuous season in PGA Tour historical past is lastly within the rearview mirror.

A season that began in September with Max Homa successful the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, every week earlier than Group USA put a beatdown on Group Europe within the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits (would not that appear like years in the past?) ended on Sunday with Rory McIlroy coming from behind within the last spherical to win the Tour Championship and an $18 million winner’s purse.

In between, 15-time main champion Tiger Woods made his return, six-time main champion Phil Mickelson went into exile, Scottie Scheffler grew to become the very best participant on this planet and the Greg Norman-led LIV Golf Invitational Collection made its debut.

“Everyone on tour has had to deal with a lot,” McIlroy stated Sunday. “Even the guys that have [gone] to LIV have had to deal with a lot. It’s just been a very tumultuous sort of era in our game.”

Whereas Scheffler, McIlroy, Cameron Smith and Woods dominated the on-course headlines, the PGA Tour’s ongoing battle with LIV Golf for the very best gamers on this planet consumed the game since February.

Listed here are the largest moments within the 2021-22 PGA Tour season:

Participant of the 12 months favourite

Scottie Scheffler’s breakthrough season ended on a bitter observe, as he squandered a 6-shot lead within the last spherical of the Tour Championship and completed tied for second behind McIlroy.

Nonetheless, after failing to win in his first two seasons on tour, Scheffler received 4 instances in six begins in 2022, together with his first main on the Masters in April. He additionally received the WM Phoenix Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play.

“It’s got to be some of the best golf that has been played over the last 15 or 20 years,” Brian Harman instructed ESPN.

“Cam Smith had a great year, but he set the record for birdie conversion and had a hot putter all year. Scheffler has done it with his putter, his irons, his driver and his short game. He’s a complete player and he hits it far. He has great touch. He’s a killer, man.”

Scheffler ranked nineteenth on tour in driving distance (311.6 yards), first in greens in regulation (72.3%) and fourth in scoring common (69.29).

Rookie of the 12 months favourite

It is tough to consider Cameron Younger began the 2020-21 season with out even having Korn Ferry Tour standing. He earned a particular non permanent membership and completed nineteenth in factors, incomes him a PGA Tour card.

Younger, from Briarcliff Manor, New York, loved fast success on tour, changing into the primary participant since Vijay Singh in 2003 to file 5 runner-up finishes. He was second on the Sanderson Farms Championship, Genesis Invitational, Wells Fargo Championship, Open Championship and Rocket Mortgage Traditional.

Younger is simply the second participant since 1958 to complete within the high three in his debut at each the PGA Championship and The Open; Collin Morikawa received each occasions in his first begin.

Younger, 25, is the primary PGA Tour rookie to earn greater than $5 million in a season, with $6.5 million in earnings. He and his spouse, Kelsey, have been capable of buy a home after residing with their households the previous few years.

“It’s obviously a huge honor, especially in the name of Arnold Palmer,” Younger stated of the Arnold Palmer Award, which works to the tour’s high rookie. “Anything he is involved in is something special. Hopefully to be given an award in his name is certainly a great start to my career. It’s not something I necessarily set out to do as a specific goal, but I accomplished a few of the things I set out to do this year.”

Largest story

The PGA Tour’s battle for survival towards the Saudi Arabia-financed LIV Golf circuit dominated the season, beginning on the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February. On the driving vary, apply inexperienced and in information conferences, one query dominated the dialog: Who’s going?

On Tuesday, Smith and fellow Australian Marc Leishman, together with Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, Individuals Cameron Tringale and Harold Varner III, and India’s Anirban Lahiri grew to become the most recent PGA Tour members to defect to LIV Golf.

There might be 32 now-former or suspended PGA Tour members competing in LIV Golf’s subsequent occasion, scheduled to begin Thursday at The Worldwide exterior Boston. The bleeding has appeared to cease — no less than for now.

Final week, LIV Golf joined seven of its gamers as a plaintiff in a federal antitrust lawsuit towards the PGA Tour. The case may not go in entrance of a jury till September 2023. It figures to be essentially the most compelling storyline in males’s golf for fairly a while.

Caddie of the 12 months

Ted Scott’s second loop on a bag would possibly find yourself being higher than his first. After serving to Bubba Watson win two Masters titles and 10 PGA Tour occasions throughout a 15-year partnership, Scott was lured again to the course to take over Scheffler’s bag in November.

With Scott guiding the best way, Scheffler discovered how one can win and have become the very best participant on this planet.

With the victory at Augusta Nationwide, Scott tied Jim “Bones” Mackay for fifth place amongst caddies for many victories within the Masters with three. Willie “Pappy” Stokes and Willie Peterson labored for gamers who received 5 inexperienced jackets; Nathaniel “Iron Man” Avery and Steve Williams have been on the bag for 4 Masters wins every.

Comeback Participant of the 12 months

Nobody strikes the needle like Tiger Woods, and when phrase started to flow into that the 15-time main champion was interested by enjoying within the Masters in April, it turned the golf world the other way up.

It was Woods’ first official occasion since he was critically injured in a automotive wreck exterior Los Angeles in February 2021. Solely 14 months after almost shedding his proper leg, Woods made the lower at Augusta Nationwide and completed forty seventh.

A month later, Woods was again on the PGA Championship and rallied to make the lower. However chilly and moist circumstances have been an excessive amount of for his surgically repaired proper leg and again, so he withdrew after 54 holes.

Woods, 46, had circled the one hundred and fiftieth Open at St. Andrews as an occasion he needed to play. He missed the lower, however his stroll down the 18th fairway in Scotland grew to become one of the memorable scenes in golf historical past.

Finest shot

Holding a 1-stroke lead over Will Zalatoris on the 18th gap within the last spherical of the U.S. Open on June 19, Matt Fitzpatrick hooked his tee shot low and left. His ball ended up within the sand, under a steep lip.

That is how Zalatoris assessed his lie: “I walked by it and I thought that going for it was going to be ballsy. It was 1-in-20, at best.”

These have been ok odds for Fitzpatrick. The Englishman clipped his second shot from 155 yards completely and his ball ended up on the elevated inexperienced, 18 ft away from the opening. He two-putted for par and received his first main, after Zalatoris narrowly missed a birdie strive of his personal. “The fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was incredible,” Zalatoris stated.

Finest putt(s)

After beginning the ultimate spherical of the Valspar Championship 3 pictures behind chief Davis Riley, Sam Burns compelled a playoff. On the second playoff gap, he defeated Riley by making a 32-foot bomb. It was his second straight victory at Innisbrook and his third PGA Tour win.

About 9 weeks later, Burns overcame a 7-shot deficit within the last spherical of the Charles Schwab Problem to pressure a playoff. On the primary additional gap, Burns made a 38-footer from the again fringe to take down Scheffler in his house state.

Finest drive

Bryson DeChambeau had been the largest hitter on the PGA Tour in latest seasons, however he was sidelined with a hand damage early after which defected to LIV Golf in June. DeChambeau’s longest drive of the PGA Tour season was a 403-yarder within the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the primary occasion of 2022.

The longest drive of the season truly belongs to Scott Stallings, who had a 460-yarder in the course of the second spherical of the WM Phoenix Open. It was 31 yards longer than the next-closest drive, a 429-yarder by Adam Schenk within the first spherical of the Wells Fargo Championship.

Finest spherical

Smith could not make something on the greens of St. Andrews in the course of the third spherical of the Open Championship in July. The following day, he could not miss something whereas successful the Claret Jug and his first main championship.

Smith, from Australia, carded a 6-under 30 on the again 9 — the bottom closing-nine rating in Open historical past — to rally from a 4-shot deficit to Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland. Smith posted a bogey-free 8-under 64 and defeated Cameron Younger by 1 stroke.

Smith was solely the third winner to shoot 64 or higher within the last spherical of The Open, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data analysis. Henrik Stenson (63 at Royal Troon in 2016) and Greg Norman (64 at Royal St. George’s in 1993) have been the others. Smith’s 20-under rating additionally matched Stenson’s 72-hole whole in 2016 for the bottom rating to par in Open historical past.

“To watch Cameron shoot what he did,” Younger stated, “it was pretty amazing.”

Finest comeback

Justin Thomas began the ultimate spherical of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in seventh place, 7 pictures behind chief Mito Pereira. Not one of the different guys in entrance of Thomas had ever received a serious, and he was searching for his second one, after successful the 2017 PGA Championship.

Thomas carded a 3-under 67 within the last spherical, forcing a playoff with Zalatoris after Pereira made a double bogey on the 72nd gap. Thomas had birdies on two of three holes in an combination playoff handy Zalatoris one other painful defeat. On the seventeenth gap — the second additional gap — Thomas knocked a 3-wood from 301 yards to 35 ft and made a two-putt birdie for his first lead of the day.

Finest end

After so many close to misses, Zalatoris lastly picked up his first PGA Tour win with a playoff victory over Sepp Straka within the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the primary leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. In fact, Zalatoris must endure one other wild playoff to finish his drought.

The three-hole playoff featured three penalty drops and nil birdies. On the par-3 eleventh gap, Zalatoris’ tee shot hit the financial institution of the island inexperienced and bounced seven instances on a rock wall. It lastly got here to relaxation between the rocks and deep tough. Straka’s ball additionally hit the financial institution and bounced into the water.

Straka went to the drop zone and knocked his third shot right into a greenside bunker. He chipped out to 4 ft. Zalatoris spent a number of minutes along with his new caddie, Joel Inventory, debating what to do. Inventory suggested him to return to the drop zone, as a substitute of attempting to try a miraculous shot. Zalatoris lastly agreed and hit his third shot to 7 ft, earlier than sinking a putt to win.

“It’s hard to say, ‘About time,’ when it’s your second year on tour, but it’s about time,” Zalatoris stated. “Considering all those close finishes, it means a lot.”

Finest tweet

On Dec. 29, Phil Mickelson claimed he had received the PGA Tour’s inaugural Participant Impression Program, and the $8 million that got here with it. The one downside: Woods truly received the highest prize after a late surge. Woods could not assist however rib his longtime rival on social media.

Quote of the 12 months

“They’re scary motherf—ers to get involved with. We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.” — Mickelson to writer Alan Shipnuck, on why he was contemplating leaving for LIV Golf. Mickelson was suspended by the PGA Tour and skipped the Masters and the PGA Championship, an occasion he had received the 12 months earlier than, whereas taking time away from golf.