The book is closed on another year of international professional golf. Once again, the world’s best golfers thrilled, inspired and amazed those of us who play the game for recreation and pleasure. Under immense pressure, they remained poised and produced incredible shots that dazzled galleries and television viewers, probably sending more than a few of us racing to the nearest driving range to try and replicate the feats we had just witnessed.
As 2017 winds to a close, it’s appropriate to reflect on some of our favorite golf shots and moments from the past 12 months. What makes our list unique is this: With assistance from PerryGolf and its experienced staff, you can walk many of these same fairways and greens next year on one of many Cruises, Escorted Tours or Custom Tours. Relish the opportunity to test your swing on holes which are forever etched in the history books due to phenomenal performances by the current crop of golf stars. Their talent transcends the game and makes them international ambassadors for the many virtues inherent to his wonderful game we love.
Jordan Spieth at Royal Birkdale
It wasn’t just that Spieth, 24, became the youngest American professional to win the Open Championship. Or that he played the final five holes in 5-under-par on Sunday after falling out of the lead for the first time all week. Or, after quite a lengthy delay and debate, he made an unbelievable bogey from the driving range on the 13th hole. It was all of those things and more – the near ace on 14, the 50-footer for Eagle on 15, the way Matt Kuchar answered Spieth’s birdies until the end – which made the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale an epic for the ages. Spieth claimed his third leg of the Grand Slam and 11th PGA Tour victory, making him the youngest player in history to accomplish such, showing indefatigable spirit and determination in his pursuit of the Claret Jug.
(Take a PerryGolf Custom Tour and play Royal Birkdale and Northwest England’s other legendary links in the Open rota, such as Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s).
You can also be there to witness history in 2018, on PerryGolf’s Open Championship cruise, which includes playing historic links across Ireland and Scotland, and attending the final round of the Open at Carnoustie.
Sergio Garcia’s magical year
Best Player to Never Win a Major is an ambiguous description for a veteran professional golfer. On one side, it means a golfer has enjoyed a terrific career, winning regular events on major professional tours and routinely contending for golf’s four major trophies. On the flip side, a person considered ‘BPTNWAM’ can be perceived as afflicted with the inability to close the deal on Sunday afternoons. If you recall, a little more than a decade ago the American lefty Phil Mickelson wore this moniker like a scarlet letter. Five majors later, he’s considered one of the game’s all-time greats. Others, such as seven-time European Tour Order of Merit leader Colin Montgomerie, were never so fortunate and ended their career with a hole in their otherwise impeccable playing record.
Sergio Garcia started challenging for major championships in 1999 at the tender age of 19. And in many years since, he’d been thick in the hunt on Sunday but fallen short, typically slipping down the leaderboard when his putter went awry.
When he arrived at Augusta National in the first week of April 2017, Garcia had 12 top-5 finishes in majors and nearly 30 professional wins worldwide. When he departed on Sunday evening he had donned a Green Jacket, shed other labels and set a magical year in motion.
(Let PerryGolf take you to the final round of the 2019 Masters).
How’s this for a year? Not only did Garcia nip his pal and Ryder Cup teammate Justin Rose in sudden death to win the Masters on what would’ve been his hero Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday, he also got married, announced the impending birth of a child in March and won twice more around the world, including the Valderrama Masters in his native Spain in a European Tour tournament hosted by his own Foundation.
(Cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona with PerryGolf and tackle Valderrama, one of the best courses in Continental Europe).
Harman makes his mark in Wilmington
With the PGA Championship taking place at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, roughly four hours west the Southeastern North Carolina coast received a rare treat, serving as one-time host for the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship.
The tournament was played at Eagle Point Golf Club, a Tom Fazio layout in Wilmington, just down the road from PerryGolf headquarters. The course received glowing reviews from the pros throughout the week and delivered one of the more exciting finishes of the 2016-17 season.
Brian Harman, the diminutive lefthander from Georgia, thrilled a capacity crowd surrounding the 18th green by draining an improbable 28-foot birdie putt late Sunday afternoon to steal a one-shot victory over World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and streaking Pat Perez as rising star Jon Rahm watched from the fairway.
Harman’s second PGA Tour victory was worth $1.35 million and vaulted him to his best season as a professional. He finished runner-up to Brooks Koepka later in the summer at the U.S. Open and ended the season with seven top-10s, ranking 25th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Records shattered at St. Andrews
Tyrrell Hatton became the first player to successfully defend his title in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a marquee event on the European Tour, contested over the Old Course at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie – which are three of the more popular courses offered on PerryGolf Custom and Escorted Tours.
Hatton blistered the storied links with a 24-under par total for 72 holes in a week during which records were made to be broken. For most of us mere mortals, the only way to shoot 61 at the Old Course is to end our round after 13 holes. Not for Ross Fisher, who toured all 18 in his 11-under round to set the new course record. Tommy Fleetwood also joined in the record-shattering fun, taking advantage of benign conditions to fire a brilliant course record 63 at the ultra-difficult Carnoustie.
Fleetwood claims the Race to Dubai
Speaking of Tommy Fleetwood, he captured the prestigious European Tour Race to Dubai, riding a pair of victories and top-five finishes at the WGC-Mexico event and U.S. Open to the lucrative prize.
Fleetwood claimed trophies at the French Open, played at Le Golf de National and the Abu Dhabi Championship en route to his best season as a professional.
The 26-year-old Englishman vaulted inside the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking and served notice that he’s likely to be a mainstay on major championship leaderboards and European Ryder Cup teams in the near future.