Francesco Molinari wins Race to Dubai after an eventful year in golf
In an act that got some thinking his sense of self had overtaken reality‚ Patrick Reed claimed a few years back that he was the best golfer on the planet.
The first tangible evidence that he was not entirely clutching at straws emerged in April when he claimed the Masters title at Augusta to prevail by one stroke over the hapless Ricky Fowler who is still in search of a major title.
Following Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange‚ American Brooks Koepka became the first man to successfully defend his US Open title since World War II when he powered to victory at Shinnecock Hills despite a fast closing Tommy Fleetwood who carded a final round 63.
Koepka also proved a bit of a party pooper by beating Tiger Woods by two shots in the US PGA Championships at Bellerive.
Woods was in search of his first major since 2008 was to rue bogeys on the sixth and the 14th in the final round as Koepka surged up the world golf rankings.
At the Open at Carnoustie‚ Francesco Molinari proved a popular winner.
He flew a little under the radar as the leaders jockeyed for position but a solid as rock final round carried him to victory.
With the bone dry fairways enabling drives of over 400 yards‚ it was the straight hitting Italian who ended up two shots clear of the chasing pack.
He also capped a stellar year by winning the prestigious Race to Dubai.
Molinari‚ in concert with Fleetwood‚ made telling contributions in Europe reclaiming the Ryder Cup in Paris.
Their 3-1 win over Woods and Reed in the opening morning fourballs slammed the brakes on the United States’ fast start.
It proved crucial.
Europe went on to win the 42nd instalment of the event with a dominant display that saw them win 17 and a half to 10 and a half.
The defeat extends the United States’ winless streak in Europe since 1993.
Koepka’s two triumphs in the majors as well as the CJ Cup helped him to top spot in the world rankings.
He was the fourth player to hold that position this year after Dustin Johnson‚ Justin Thomas and Justin Rose.
Pernilla Lindberg‚ Ariya Jutanugarn‚ Park Sung-hyun Georgia Hall and Angela Stafford shared women’s majors among them.
Thailand’s Jutanugarn grabbed the top position in the world rankings in the last week in October and has held that position since.
South Africa’s premier event‚ the Nedbank Golf Challenge had a familiar face in the winner’s circle.
Lee Westwood’s final round 64 took him three shots clear of the field to win his third title after previous success in 2010 and 2011.
In January‚ unheralded Englishman Chris Paisley bagged the South African Open with a three-shot win at Glendower.
George Coetzee finished top of the heap in the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit with earnings of just under R3m. His victory in the Tshwane Open helped pave the way to the top spot.