Those words “Are you kidding me” are the title of a book written by long time tour player and current
Champions Tour player Rocco Mediate describing his experience at the (2008) U.S. Open held at Torrey
Pines G.C. where he was beaten in an (18) hole playoff by Tiger Woods…an event – (which we were to find out a little later) – that Tiger had played on a fractured leg!
Well, as we have discussed in this publication over the last (15) months or so, those words still resonate when describing the resurgence of Tiger’s golfing career.
In late 2018, after not playing much at all for (5) years – (years that should have been potentially among the strongest of his career) – he came back and won the Tour Championship – which some have described as one of the great comebacks – all time – in any sport; having overcome (5)! back surgeries including spinal fusion! – to not only walk and play golf again…but to win against the best players in the world!
Then…then, in 2019, he wins the Masters! …Are you kidding me? – (Thanks Rocco) – then, once again, he has a 5th knee surgery this fall, and two months later, he beats the world’s best again at the 2020 Championship in Japan along with tying the great Sam Snead’s record of (82) P.G.A. Tour wins!
Now, I don’t have a lot of room left this month to fully explain how amazing this golfer is – having gone from not knowing if he would ever be able to have a quality of life that allowed him to move around freely – to combating his personal & opioid-related demons – leaving the game – falling to #1,199th in the world rankings…to now being ranked #6 in the world at age (43) playing against tour “kids” half his age…so, I’ll just leave it to Rocco to explain it…“Are you kidding me?”
2019 – A Little Review
Since this is our last publication of (2019), I thought I would (try) to go back over the year’s highlights on the world’s tours and some of the rest that went on this year in our game. A lot to cover – but I’ll try- so, here we go!
Starting with women’s golf: The year-long CME Group Tour Championship is yet to be played, so I will give those results in the spring -but- the regular season up to this point has seen (2018) rookie of the year Jin Young Ko of South Korea move on / and hold on to the number one ranking in the world; (21) yr old Brooke Henderson of Canada become the winningest golfer on any tour from Canada - at (21)! – with her 9th LPGA victory; the 16th edition of the Biennial Solheim Cup received some of the highest television ratings ever for a women’s golf event – with the European team edging out the team from the U.S. on the last putt on the last hole!; the U.S. Women’s Open 1st prize check was 1million dollars for the first time ever!; and (14) women won on the LPGA Tour for the first time – this tour is just simply on fire!
On the PGA Tour Champions: 2019 witnessed the strong emergence of Scott McCarron, who currently leads the way going into this tour’s Charles Schwab Cup final – (*their Tour Championship, which has yet to be played as of this date) – followed by Jerry Kelly, who has really found his game here among the 50+ set; South Bend Indiana’s Warren Golf Course on Notre Dame’s campus held the 40th U.S. Senior Open, which was won by Steve Stricker…and where Mr. Tom Watson (now 69 years old) shot his age in this event…twice!; Germany’s Bernhard Langer – (now 61 years of age) – won the Senior British Open – giving him (40!) career senior circuit wins on this tour’s all-time list); and, since he gave us the title for this month’s article, I have to give him a shout out – Rocco Mediate won the Sanford Invitational in September after a prolonged victory drought on tour – Are you kidding me? – Way to go Rocco!
The U.S. Men’s P.G.A. Tour was once again busy & full of exciting golf – crowning great champions – as an example: Early in the season, (48) year old Phil Mickelson won the 78th Pebble Beach Pro-Am, giving him (44) career PGA Tour titles; Dustin Johnson won the WGC Mexico Championship – continuing his streak of (now) 12 years in a row with a victory on tour; Rory McIlroy won the Player’s Championship title in March at the Pete Dye TPC Sawgrass layout; and the following month – the Masters title was won for the 5th! time by Tiger – (as we already covered) – giving him his 15th major title – and now only (3) back of Jack Nicklaus’ record total of (18) – *Nothing else to say here – just oh my!; The 101st PGA Championship was moved to May for the first time ever, and was won in wire-to-wire fashion – (and back-to-back) – by world #1 – Brooks Koepka and giving him (4) wins in the last (8) majors in which he has competed – another – Oh my!; The U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach G.C. for the 6th time, where (35) year veteran Gary Woodland held off the (3-part) attempt of Brooks Koepka, who won the Open in 2017 & 2018 – a very gutsy win by Mr. Woodland with Koepka breathing down his neck; the 148th! playing of the British Open was won by Ireland’s own Shane Lowry – (*The event was actually held in Northern Ireland, but for this event, he was adopted as one of their own); (and) the year long road to the Fed-Ex Cup / Tour Championship was won by Rory McIlroy – which came with a nice (15) million dollar check!
I have a lot more notes on golf in 2019 – but if we put them all! in, we’d run out of paper! -but- I did want to include these: The Men’s PGA Tour had (14) 1st time winners this year – (just like the LPGA Tour) -and- had (21) wins by players in their 20’s; Brooks Koepka won the PGA & had top (5) finishes in all (4) majors earning him the PGA “Player of the Year” title, while Rory McIlroy was named “PGA Tour Player of the Year” for the 3rd time based on his (3-win) season – (*yes, there are two separate awards; and to start the 2019-2020 wrap-around PGA Tour season, veteran Kevin Chappell shot the 10th ever (59) at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. A little more – the President’s Cup will be played in Melbourne, Australia Dec. 9th thru Dec. 15th – (*like the Ryder Cup, but instead of the U.S. vs. Europe, it is the U.S. team vs. the rest of the world’s great players, and with Tiger winning recently – (and being the U.S. team captain) – he will probably play for our team – should be great viewing; 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will again include golf & 2020 is a Ryder Cup year – and is being held in nearby Kohler, Wisconsin – so look online for some tickets!
Just a reminder – please think local first when going out Christmas shopping. Your local golf shop not only sells golf equipment, but also has gift certificates for rounds of golf, etc. and our region off-course shops like Ringo’s on Route #30 and J&M Golf in St. John are fully stocked for the holidays.
Special thanks this month: To Mike Modrzejewski for making this article of mine even possible; to all of those who participated in our contests this year, as well as, to the golf facilities who generously donated the prizes; to all our great advertisers who keep this paper alive & kicking; and from me – to Jon and Steve Chontos who give me the opportunity to write this column every month – Thank you.
(And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – please contact me at our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a voicemail at (219)617-3276, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at golfplusonline.net.
Lastly: In this last “Lastly” of 2019, I just wanted to wish – (Nov. 30th a very happy birthday to my favorite golfer – Mr. Harold Koenig – a man whom I’ve been lucky enough to have met, and written about in this paper in the past. A man – who if you look around Wicker Park G.C., will still see occasionally hitting balls -or- around the putting green. So – Happy B-day Mr. K. – Happy 106th!! Yes, I said 106th!! And a very dapper looking (106) at that!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
See ya next year - Pete