The Biggest Surprises in Golf in 2012

Mike DudurichContributor IDecember 26, 2012

The Biggest Surprises in Golf in 2012

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    If there weren't surprises in a professional golf season, it would be fairly boring, wouldn't it?

    Well, the 2012 professional golf season was anything but boring. There were classic collapses, unexpected comebacks and inspiring victories.

    From young to old, surprises made 2012 a definite season to remember.

    Here are 10 of the most significant surprises of the year.

Brandt Snedeker Wins FedEx Cup

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    There are a few surprising aspects about Brandt Snedeker winning the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

    For starters, Snedeker had not been viewed previously in the same strata as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, etc., and he was well under the radar coming into the FedEx Cup playoffs while Woods and McIlroy were playing very well.

    Snedeker had won only three times to that point in his career, including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open earlier in the year.

    Add to all of that the fact that his win at the Farmers came just a few months after having surgery on his right hip in November 2011. That surgery followed left hip surgery by 11 months.

Beau Hossler, 17, Contends at U.S. Open

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    The U.S. Open is set up to be the most complete examination of a golfer and to produce the best champion possible.

    Grizzled veterans walk off the Open venue each year muttering to themselves in frustration.

    Sometimes young players walk into this meatgrinder and, unaware of the surroundings and pressure, do spectacular things.

    In 2012, that was 17-year-old Beau Hossler.

    He led midway through the second day of the Open and when he teed off Sunday, he was tied for eighth place at 3-over par.

    He struggled to a 76 Sunday to finish tied for 29th. Not bad for a kid who doesn’t have a driver’s license yet.

Tianlang Guan Sets Records

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    The name may not be familiar but who knows, it may be in the future.

    Tianlang Guan, a Chinese golf sensation won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at the ripe old age of 14. With that victory comes an invitation to the Masters in April, where he’ll be the youngest participant in the history of golf’s first major of the year.

    The win also gets him a spot in final stage qualifying for the Open Championship in 2013.

Tiger Disappears on Weekends

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    When Tiger Woods was at his best, if he got into the lead at a tournament odds were good that he’d close it out.

    That’s not been the case during his “comeback.” In 2012, he was in contention in three of the four majors and faltered each time on the weekend.

    He posted rounds of 74, 73, 73 and 72 on Sunday afternoon of this year’s majors.

Adam Scott Collapses, Gives Ernie Els Open Championship

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    While it is generally assumed that Adam Scott will at some point become a major champion, the road to that trophy has not been a smooth one.

    The biggest pothole came in the 2012 Open Championship, when he had a four-shot lead with four holes to go and bogeyed each one to hand Ernie Els the title.

    It was a crushing defeat for Scott, who for years has been looked on as being the next great Australian golfer, in the footsteps of Greg Norman.

I.K. Kim Misses One-Foot Putt for Kraft Nabisco Title

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    I.K. Kim raised plenty of eyebrows when she qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt and those eyebrows raised even more when she led by a shot on the final hole of the LPGA Kraft Nabisco with a birdie putt.

    The closest player two her on the course was two shots behind. Kim missed the birdie putt, but didn’t even touch the hole on the one-footer coming back and fell into a tie with Sun Young Yoo.

    Kim lost in the playoff to Yoo.

Yani Tseng, a Slump?

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    Some things just can’t be explained.

    After a pair of Player of the Year awards on the LPGA Tour, Yani Tseng roared into 2012 with hopes of making history.

    But after mid-season slump in which she went 16 straight rounds without breaking 70, Tseng now has different goals for 2013: trying to reclaim the top spot in the Rolex Player of the Year standings.

    She fell to fourth in those standings as a result of her play in 2012.

Charlie Beljan Hangs on to Win Miracle

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    If you saw any of the Golf Channel’s coverage of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic during the second round, you wouldn’t have thought Charlie Beljan would be anywhere near the victory podium on Sunday afternoon.

    Beljan started feeling shortness of breath, tightness in his chest and numbness in his arms on Friday and paramedics followed him throughout the back nine.

    He spent the night in the emergency room but was back on the course after doctors found nothing seriously wrong. His symptoms resembled those of a panic attack and Beljan soldiered on because he was in contention and needed to secure his PGA Tour card for 2013.

    He hung on to win by two shots over Robert Garrigus and Matt Every and, just as importantly, a two-year exemption into PGA Tour events.

Goodbye Ryder Cup

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    Expectations for the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club were very high.

    Both teams had strong lineups and the competition was expected to be fierce.

    The United States, led by the dominating duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, roared out to 10-6 lead heading into the Sunday singles and victory speeches were being put together.

    Shockingly, however, Europe gave all of the speeches Sunday night as they won eight of 12 singles matches and retained the Cup after one of the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history.

Jim Furyk Collapses

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    Jim Furyk had a chance to win the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in June and was in great shape to do so when he stepped onto the 16th tee Sunday afternoon.

    But the tees were moved up 100 yards and Furyk couldn’t get comfortable with the shot required and snapped hook his ball into the trees, leading to a round of 74, thanks to bogeys on his final six holes.

    Then came four poor shots on the 18th hole at Firestone Country Club, handing Keegan Bradley the Bridgestone Invitational title and shaking Furyk to his core after perhaps his worst collapse.

    To cap off his year, he was one up over Sergio Garcia with two holes to play in the Ryder Cup on Sunday and he bogeyed both holes to lose a crucial match for the U.S. team.