Oh nine – the almost year and the rise of Danny LeePost by: Reece Lightning
// November 22nd, 2009 // Johnnie Walker Golf Club News
The return of Tiger Woods after an eight month injury lay-off was the overwhelming focus for the 09 season. And while he went major less, he didn’t disappoint. Anticipation for a comeback victory at the Masters was rife, but despite some final round fireworks in an electric paring with Phil Mickelson, their heroics fell just short. 48-year-old American Kenny Perry vying to become the oldest major champion ever had one arm in the green jacket, before a late round collapse saw Argentine Angel Cabrera snatch his first Masters title on the second extra hole to go along side his US Open Triumph in 2007.
(A mrbojumbles piece as seen on Johnnie Walker Golf Club)
Mickelson arrived at the US Open nursing a heavy heart with his wife Amy battling cancer but with the weight of the nation behind the ropes. Hopes of the fairytale US Open victory came tantalizingly close for Lefty, but for a record fifth time at his national open, he was bridesmaid once again as Lucas Glover held his nerve for the unlikely victory.
The Open Championship at Turnberry provided four rounds of stroke play like no other. Woods shocked everyone by missing his first ever Open cut, but his absence didn’t dampen the weekend’s entertainment. The stage was set for 59-year-old hall of famer Tom Watson to shatter the record Kenny Perry let slip from his grasp in April. Watson wooed the Scottish patron’s with complete disregard to his age by taking it to the wire. As was the ‘Almost’ omen for 2009, standing over an eight foot putt for history on the 72nd, Watson was unable rewrite the record books. A four hole playoff was a bridge too far for Watson, graciously conceding defeat to fellow American Stewart Cink.
Woods hogged the headlines at the PGA Championship right up until the back nine Sunday. He was in cruise control heading towards major 15 before the curse of 2009 took effect. What was more significant than Tiger’s inability to close out his 12th major when leading after 54 holes, was unheralded Y.E. Yang of South Korea’s finish in the clutch to become the first ever Asian-born major champion. Yang buried Woods with what was in my humble opinion – the best ever shot on such a stage. After flirting with a miraculous eagle on the 72nd, his 3-hybrid settled 12 feet from the hole, which he rolled in, announcing the arrival of Asia to the world.
As for the Kiwi’s flying the flag, Cambo seems to be moving a step closer to the commentary box each week. His awful run of form, compounded by his niggling shoulder injury has bared little fruit, receiving only four pocket money sized cheques from 17 events this season. But hope still exists within Cambo. Now on the grey side of forty, he still publicly believes has the old fire to produce positive results.
At the other end of the spectrum, kiwi prodigy Danny Lee has been a breath of fresh air. His well documented breakthrough victory as an amateur in the Johnnie Walker Classic gave him a quick start out of the gates as he set off on his pro career on the PGA Tour. Lee’s become an excitement machine on tour, he sits 24th for birdie percentage with 133 birds from 630 holes. He’s teased us with his ability but we must be patient for the results. His tie for 7th at the AT&T National where Woods conquered in July, was his best finish and while he doesn’t have full playing rights next season, the European Tour is not such a bad plan B for any 19 year old. To cap off a successful season for the tour rookie, Lee will represent New Zealand along side David Smail at the 2009 World Cup this coming week.