It’s Oscar season! The annual American awards ceremony honors cinematic achievements in the film industry. There were some incredible performances over the past year in cinema. At the 87th Academy Awards, will it be Birdman? Boyhood? The Grand Budapest Hotel?
With Hollywood rolling out the red carpet, why not do the same for golf? After all, the 2014 season was certainly one to remember. Rory McIlroy added two more majors to his trophy room. Europe won their third straight Ryder Cup. And Michelle Wie captured her first major on the LPGA tour.
So without further ado, giving out ‘Oscars’ to the best of the past year in golf:
Best Supporting Actor: Rickie Fowler
Mr. California Cool had a breakout 2014. Fowler is only the third player behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to have finished in the top 5 in all four majors in one calendar year, but the first not to win. Fowler had 10 top-10 finishes during the 2013-14 PGA Tour season.
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Wie
Finally. After so many years of criticism for not living up to her status as a prodigy, Michelle Wie finally broke through in 2014. On June 22, 2014, Wie won her fourth LPGA Tour event and first major championship, the U.S. Women’s Open.
Just 25, Wie, a.k.a ‘Big Wiesy’, still has a lot of great golf in front of her. We can’t wait to see what she does in 2015.
Best Director: Paul McGinley
In September, Paul McGinley captained a masterful performance in the Ryder Cup, leading Europe to a 16½ to 11½ win, Europe’s third straight Ryder Cup victory.
McGinley’s three Captain’s picks were Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher.
Europe got out to a hot start and really never looked back. In Friday afternoon’s action, Europe won three of four matches and halved the other, to lead 5-3 heading into the weekend. The score doubled the next day, and a 10-6 Europe lead heading into Sunday was too much for the United States to catch up. Justin Rose led the way for the Europeans, obtaining 4 points in a winning effort.
Darren Clarke has already been chosen as Europe’s captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup, but don’t count out McGinley for a second go-round sometime in the future.
Best Actress: Stacy Lewis
Stacy Lewis was already established as one of the best golfers on the LPGA Tour prior to 2014. The Ohio native won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011 and the Women’s British Open in 2013. But 2014 was Stacy’s year. She was the tour’s leading money winner, the scoring leader (Vare Trophy) and the LPGA’s Player Of The Year.
In total, Lewis won three events on tour last season – the North Texas LPGA Shootout, the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Let’s she what she has for an encore in 2015.
Best Actor: Rory McIlroy
No real upset here. Rory McIlroy took it to a whole new level in 2014. The 25-year-old added two more majors to his collection, winning the Open Championship and the PGA Championship back-to-back. In addition, McIlroy won the WGC-Bridgstone Invitational for his first World Golf Championship and swept every major PGA Tour award. A win as part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team was the cherry on top.
What will McIlroy do for an encore? Find out in April at Augusta.
Best Picture: 2014 PGA Championship
No question – the most drama, the most excitement, the most historic moment of 2014 came from the PGA Championship, won by Rory McIlroy at Valhalla.
The final major of the year was pure theater with a group of A-listers: Phil Mickelson, Fowler and Henrik Stenson all had a share of the lead on the back nine. The final two hours were filled with eagles and birdies, with tension and chaos.
McIlroy went out on the first nine in a poor 1-over 36. He was one of the only golfers in the top 30 to not be under par for the first nine holes.
Three shots behind as he stood in the 10th fairway, McIlroy got back in the game with an unbelievable 3-wood from 281 yards into 7 feet for eagle. He took the outright lead when all three of his challengers eventually made bogey, and finally gave himself some breathing room. With a 9-iron from a fairway bunker to 10 feet for birdie on the 17th, he took a two-shot lead going to the par-5 closing hole.
Because of a two-hour rain delay earlier, darkness was falling quickly, and it wasn’t certain McIlroy would be able to finish. McIlroy was allowed to hit his tee shot before Mickelson and Fowler (in the group ahead of him) had reached their drives. Both were only two shots behind. McIlroy came within a yard of hitting in a hazard right of the fairway. Then, the PGA again allowed McIlroy to hit his second shot. Mickelson and Fowler had to stand to the side of the green. McIlroy eventually two putted for the championship.