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2013 Golf Year In Review

By Kevin Currie, Senior Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2013 season was marked by dominating stretches of golf, and crazy shots that defined several tournaments.

Our Player of the Year had four consecutive top-3 finishes, and five in a 6- event span. We saw players on the LPGA Tour - three in a row - and Champions Tour - two in a row - win consecutive majors.

We saw balls bounce off rocks and foot-bridges to tap-in range, and watched one Hall of Famer see his putt for 59 violently spin out of the hole, which seemed to be a mirror image of his career.

The real winner in 2013 was Mother Nature. Over 20 PGA Tour events were stopped by rain, wind, thunder, you name it. The LPGA and European Tours were also affected. The LPGA had to cut an event to 36 holes, which was played over three 12-hole rounds with the rest of the course completely under water, and the European Tour had a pair of events shortened by bad weather.

Once the weather cleared, there was plenty of stellar action inside the ropes.

The PGA Tour had three first-time major winners, while the LPGA saw one player win the first three majors and barely earn Player of the Year honors due to two other players' stellar seasons.

The European team dominated the Solheim Cup, while the Internationals made the Presidents Cup more interesting than most thought it would be.

Let's look at the top performers of the season:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- HENRIK STENSON

He may not have won a major, he may not have had the most wins in 2013, but he did something no other player had done before.

Henrik Stenson won both the PGA Tour and European Tour season-ending events, and in doing so became the first player to win the FedExCup and Race to Dubai in the same season.

The Swede overcame a pair of large droughts in his career that plummeted him from the top-10 in the world to outside the top-200. However, in 29 worldwide starts in 2013, he missed just two cuts.

Stenson finished inside the top-25 in 18 of those 29 starts, while collecting three victories. His wins came in two of the four FedExCup playoff events, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Tour Championship, and at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

He played more than half of his events prior to the middle of June, and had just three top-10 finishes to that point. His best finish was a share of second at the Houston Open.

Stenson shared 18th at the Masters and 21st at the U.S. Open. The latter of which kicked off one of the hottest stretches of golf we saw all year.

Starting with the BMW International, Stenson racked up nine top-10 finishes in his final 13 starts, including all three of his wins. In that span, he shared third at the Scottish Open, took second at the British Open, tied for second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and finished third at the PGA Championship.

The stretch of golf put him in position with win both season-long races, and he capped both of those races with wins.

Stenson continued his hot play into December, where he took fourth at the Nedbank Challenge, his final start of 2013.

If he plays like that again in 2014, Stenson would likely become the first Swede to top the men's world golf rankings, which he has stated as one of his new goals.

Among the other contenders were five-time winner Tiger Woods, the four major champions -- Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner -- and Graeme McDowell, who had one PGA and two European Tour titles in 2013, three- time major winner Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- JORDAN SPIETH

He left the University of Texas after his fall semester and turned professional to start the 2013 season, and did so without status on any major tour.

With three top-10 finishes in a 5-event span, Jordan Spieth earned money to gain Special Temporary status on the PGA Tour. He struggled with only two top-10 finishes in his next eight events.

The 19-year-old, though, put together three straight 65s at the John Deere Classic. His final-round 65 was capped by a hole-out birdie from greenside bunker that got him into a playoff.

In that extra session, he beat David Hearn and reigning tournament champion Zach Johnson and gained full tour status through the 2014-15 season.

With the win, Spieth also became the youngest PGA winner since Johnny McDermott won the 1911 U.S. Open as a 19-year-old.

Spieth, who had five top-10 finishes in his first 15 PGA Tour starts, collected four more in his final eight events. That burst, including a second- place finish at the Wyndham Championship and four top-20 finishes in the four FedExCup playoff events, helped him earn a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

From no status to his first national team appearance in one season as a professional is more than enough to be named Rookie of the Year.

Among those in contention were American Peter Uihlein, who posted a win among his eight top-10s on the European Tour; Moriya Jutanugarn, who had six top-10s on the LPGA Tour; and Rocco Mediate, who earned two wins and seven top-10 finishes in his first year on the Champions Tour.

SHOT OF THE YEAR -- NORDQVIST'S ACE

When one shot has never happened before, then happens this year, it qualifies as the shot of the year.

Never in the previous 12 Solheim Cups had there been a hole-in-one.

Clinging to a 1-up lead in their Saturday morning four-somes match, Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist were trying to close out the feisty duo of Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda.

The group reached the 17th tee, and Nordqvist put her name in the history books with the first hole-in-one in event history. What a way to close out a match!

It was an important victory too as the Americans won 2 1/2 points in that session to close within 6 1/2/ - 5 1/2. It was all Europe from there, as you'll see in the Tournament of the Year.

There were numerous shots also considered, like Justin Rose's approach at 18 in the U.S. Open; Phil Mickelson's stunning second at the par-5 17th at the British Open; Shanshan Feng's lucky carom off the rocks at the Reignwood LPGA Classic; Jamie Donaldson's ace at the Turkish Airlines Open; Mickelson's power lip-out for 59; Jim Furyk's hole-eagle, which propelled him to a 59 at the BMW Championship; and Scott Brown's carom off a foot-bridge to three feet to set up eagle on the driveable 16th at the Barclays.

TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR -- SOLHEIM CUP

Among many things that were trending against the European team at the Solheim Cup was the fact that they had never won the Cup in the United States.

Due to that, they also hadn't won consecutive Solheim Cups.

That ended in crushing fashion this year. As stated in the Shot of the Year, the U.S. team closed within 6 1/2 - 5 1/2 after Saturday mornings session.

It was all Europe from there. Three of the four afternoon matches went to the 18th hole, and the other ended on the 17th. The Europeans won all four, and the rout was on.

Leading by five points entering the Sunday singles, the European team needed only 3 1/2 to retain the cup and four points to win it back outright. Five of the 12 singles matches were halved, while the Europeans won five of the other seven matches to give them an 18-10 victory.

The eight-point margin was the largest in event history. Caroline Hedwall, the only player on either team to play all five sessions, became the first player in Solheim Cup history to go 5-0 at one cup.

England's Charley Hull, 17, went 2-1 as the youngest competitor in event history.

Among the other events considered were the British Open, the Reignwood LPGA Classic and the Open de Espana, which had a 9-hole playoff.

GOOD YEAR

Tiger Woods got back to his dominating ways with five wins in 18 worldwide starts. He finished in the top-6 in half of his 18 events, including at the Masters and British Open. However, he struggled with an arm injury at the U.S. Open and was a non-factor at the PGA Championship.

Phil Mickelson had three worldwide wins, including his first-ever British Open title. Coughed up the U.S. Open, again, finishing tied for second for a record sixth time. Seemed to tire late in the year with just one top-10 and three top-15 finishes in his last seven events.

Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters and backed it up with a win at The Barclays. Struggled at the U.S. Open, but finished inside the top-5 in the other three majors, and shared third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Brandt Snedeker had four top-3 finishes, including a win, in his first five starts. Picked up another win later in the year, and tied Woods and Bill Haas with nine top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour.

Inbee Park won the first three majors on then LPGA Tour, and won six times in all. She also won the tour's Player of the Year award on points.

Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen nearly toppled Park for that award. Lewis had three wins, including the Women's British Open, and 19 top-10 finishes in 26 starts. Pettersen, the Evian Championship winner, earned four titles, five third-place finishes and 15 top-10s in all.

Lydia Ko, 16, collected three worldwide wins, two of which came while she was still an amateur. Petitioned the LPGA Tour for membership in 2014 and was granted that status, then turned pro and won her first start by three over 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu.

Kenny Perry posted three wins on the Champions Tour, including back-to-back majors, and won the season-long race for the Charles Schwab Cup.

Bernhard Langer had his normal strong season on the senior circuit with two wins among this 11 top-3 finishes, and 18 top-10s in 24 starts.

BAD YEAR

Ricky Barnes missed 15 cuts in 26 starts, and his share of 12th at the Byron Nelson was his best finish of the year.

Robert Allenby played all four rounds in just one of his first 12 events. Overall, he made just five cuts in 24 starts.

Yani Tseng posted just four top 10s and finished 38th on the money list. Lost her No. 1 world ranking in March and slid as low as No. 32.

Jbe Kruger, the 2012 Avantha Masters champion, had just one top-10 finish in 23 starts and closed the year with a streak of 10 straight missed cuts.

Bobby Wadkins posted his best finish, a tie for 26th at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, in a team event. Played 20 events and didn't finish better than tied for 35th in the others.

Dusty Fielding advanced to the weekend in just five of his 20 events on the year on the Web.com Tour.

12/23 13:33:21 ET


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