After 17 events completed so far in 2012, the PGA Tour has provided some fantastic finishes for golf fans.
The West Coast swing got off to a thrilling start when Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot advantage in the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open. Who can forget watching his ball back down the green and roll into Devlin’s Billabong on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines?
He took a three-shot lead into the final hole made triple-bogey eight and lost in the playoff to Brandt Snedeker.
The very next week, Stanley had an amazing comeback at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He shot a flawless final round six-under-par 65 and came from six shots down to defeat Spencer Levin, who did his best Kyle Stanley impression.
It’s hard to win on the PGA Tour.
Mickelson followed that up by finishing tied for first at the Northern Trust at Riviera with reigning PGA Champion Keegan Bradley and FedEx Cup $10-million-man Bill Haas. Haas eventually won the playoff, but it was just another ho-hum fantastic finish on the 2012 PGA Tour.
Hunter Mahan sliced and diced his way through the field at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, defeating favorite Rory McIlroy for the win. The final at the match play was somewhat anticlimactic after McIlroy had beaten Lee Westwood in the semifinal match.
McIlroy had a minor comeback of his own the very next week when he won the Honda Classic and jumped over Luke Donald to capture the No. 1 ranking on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). Tiger Woods even threw in a little 62 during the final round of the Honda to show the world that he had a little game left.
Another Sean Foley student, Justin Rose, played flawless golf all week at the WGC-Cadillac at Doral and picked up the fourth PGA Tour win of his career. Two 2011 major winners, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel, plus future 2012 Masters winner, Bubba Watson, finished right behind Rose at Doral.
Evidently, Donald didn’t like his two weeks away from the No. 1 OWGR spot and leap-frogged back over McIlroy with his win at the Transitions Championship.
Woods picked up his sixth career Arnold Palmer Invitational victory and his 73rd PGA Tour win at Bay Hill. It was Woods’ first full-field tournament win in over three years. The relief on Woods' face was evident as he putted out on the 72nd hole at “Arnie’s Place.”
With Mickelson, McIlroy, Donald and Woods all playing well heading into the Masters in the first week of April, the stars seemed to be aligned for an event for the ages.
Although McIlroy, Woods and Donald were not really factors at Augusta, Mickelson was among the leaders heading into the final round on Sunday. A triple-bogey six on the par-three fourth hole proved to be his undoing. He could only muster birdies at 13 and 15 on the back nine and finished T-3.
2010 British Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, played superbly all week and even carded an extremely rare albatross at the par-five second hole on Sunday. Bubba Watson made a late charge on the back nine with four consecutive birdies at 13, 14, 15 and 16 to tie Oosthuizen for the lead and then pulled off one of the greatest shots in Masters history.
Watson’s shot from deep in the trees on the right side of No. 10 in the second playoff hole was pure Bubba. He hooked a 52-degree wedge nearly 20 yards onto the green and then two-putted to secure the green jacket after Oosthuizen had made bogey.
With Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy fighting for the No. 1 spot, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods both returning to top form, record-setting comebacks, an Oosthuizen Masters albatross and a “Bubba Golf” miracle shot, 2012 has already been a memorable year on the PGA Tour.
Will 2012 go down as one of the best in PGA Tour history?
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