Well, to put it mildly, professional golf at the highest level is very strange — very strange indeed. It was a year when some of the brightest stars failed to shine. Heading up that list has to be Jordan Spieth. In just a 28-month period, Spieth occupied the No. 1 perch in the world rankings, won 10 times on the PGA Tour, and won three legs of the Grand Slam: The Masters, The U.S. Open, and The Open Championship.
He was certainly the golden boy in those 28 months, and it seemed the sky was the limit for him. But this year, Spieth has fallen outside the top 30 in the world, failed to make it into The Tour championship, and hasn’t won anything, much less another major since the 2017 Open Championship in Scotland. While he constantly directs praise toward his caddie (they have a very close relationship), no one will be surprised if a caddie change takes place in the Spieth camp. As the saying goes, “it’s never the player’s fault.”
Speaking of caddie changes, Jason Day’s game has lost its shine. At the U.S. Open, Day shared with us his wife and manager both let him know the cause of his lack of results on the course was simple: he just wasn’t working hard enough. So, Day hired superstar caddie, Stevie Williams, to “whip him into shape.” That relationship was short-lived as Day determined that Williams was just too old-school for him. Even with Williams’ help, there was no shine whatsoever from Day. He only had six top-10 finishes and didn’t even come close to a victory.
It could be said Spieth and Day was joined by another superstar, Dustin Johnson, although it seemed that Johnson had some valid reasons for his apparent shortcomings.
One, Tiger Woods stole the show from Johnson at the Masters by taking home his fifth Green Jacket. Two, Johnson’s good friend Brooks Koepka outlasted Johnson to take home two back-to-back PGA Championship titles. And then Johnson was simply nowhere to be found at neither The U.S. Open nor The Open Championship.
On the other hand, many would regard Johnson’s season as a stellar one. He managed to accumulate $5 million including a World Golf Championship. Johnson’s victory at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship means he has had at least one victory in each of the last 12 seasons. Very impressive.
One of the great things about golf is that fortunes can change quickly, and this certainly happened for Irishman Shane Lowry. There’s no doubt his victory at The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland certainly had a fairytale feel to it. After all, Lowry won the Claret Jug just 200 miles from where he grew up in the Dublin area.
And then there’s Rory. McIlroy didn’t come into the 2018-19 season as a polished shining star, but he certainly turned into one by season’s end. He won The Players, the RBC Canadian Open, and the Tour Championship, which meant he took home the whole pot of gold. More than the $15 million he collected, I think the wins boosted McIlroy’s confidence.
A win in Augusta would give McIlroy the career Grand Slam, which is a win in all four majors. Very difficult to accomplish. Only five golfers have managed to climb that mountain: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Trust me, McIlroy has the talent to join that club.
At age 49, Phil Mickelson’s hopes are fading, while Spieth has time on his side, but needs to work his way back.