The red carpet has been unfurled, the Moët is on ice and the teleprompter is stocked full of bad jokes and endless acknowledgments. Without further ado, the 2012 Rexys:
Derecho (duh-RAY-choh) Award. No, not the powerful storm that uprooted trees across the Middle Atlantic states in late June and transformed the third round of this year’s AT&T National into a cozy member-member sans gallery. The Derecho chalice goes to Rory McIlroy who, like the storm that felled trees across Congressional and the surrounding area, seemed to build on himself in 2012.
In March the Northern Irish lad outlasted Tiger Woods at The Honda Classic and lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler at May’s Wells Fargo Championship. But he drifted into a slump, at least by his lofty standards, missing four of his next five cuts and tying for 60th at the British Open. The 22-year-old, however, showed surprising poise, rebounded with his second major victory at the PGA Championship and playoff tilts at the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW and easily took Player of the Year honors and money titles on both sides of the Atlantic.
June’s storm at Congressional only quieted the crowds on Saturday; the Ulsterman silenced an entire sport.
Dr. Gregory House Award. It would have taken the cantankerous brainiac to cure what was ailing Charlie Beljan at the season finale at Disney, but not even medicine’s greatest mind could have figured out that all Beljan needed was a “W.”
In one of the most surreal episodes in recent history, Beljan went from an area emergency room on Saturday morning to an inspired victory at the appropriately named Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic on Sunday.
If only House & Co. could have found a way to wrest the Disney event out of the metaphorical ICU before the event flat-lined and was pronounced DOA by the Tour earlier this month.
The inaugural Head-fake Cup. Early Sunday morning at this year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club we spotted U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis putting the finishing touches on the course before the final round.
“We want to make them think,” Davis said when asked about a new teeing ground at the 16th hole that lopped nearly 100 yards off the par 5.
Hours later Jim Furyk’s bid for his second Open title essentially ended on that tee when he pulled his hybrid tee shot left into a row of trees and never recovered. “I know the USGA gives us a memo saying that they play from multiple tees, but there's no way to prepare for a hundred yards,” Furyk later said.
With apologies to Furyk, the U.S. Open is billed as the toughest test in golf, and if that includes an occasional pop quiz then so be it.
Allen Iverson “Practice” Award. Maybe something was lost in translation or there was a buy-one-get-one-free offer at nearby Ferrari World, but the scene during Tuesday’s practice round at this year’s HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship just didn’t add up.
Either way, consider it an opportunity lost when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy set out for an impromptu practice round this year and we counted a total of 15 fans following the group. Note to United Arab Emirates golf fans – Tiger and Rory are as good as golf gets in a practice round or otherwise.
Anchors Away Award (formerly the It’s Not You, It’s Me Award). The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews’ move to ban anchoring? Nope, this year’s honor goes to the player who made the most surprising personnel moves in 2012.
There are two kinds of swing coaches on Tour: those who have been fired and those who are about to be, but Lee Westwood lands the not-so-coveted AAA trophy because of his split with longtime swing coach Pete Cowen in August.
Marriages go bad, we get that, but no one has ever questioned the Englishman’s ballstriking, which Cowen has overseen since Westwood joined the play-for-pay ranks. That Westwood also split with his caddie this year suggests that he’s in search of answers. For the sake of the unemployment rate, let’s hope he finds the solution soon.
Elwood Blues Blue Light Award. Lombard (Ill.) deputy police chief Patrick Rollins earns a special exemption into this year’s “Rexys” as the wheelman who delivered European Ryder Cup hero Rory McIlroy to Medinah on time for his Sunday singles match.
McIlroy misjudged his tee time at this year’s matches and arrived at Medinah just 10 minutes before his Sunday bout with Keegan Bradley thanks to Rollins’ efforts, which were even more impressive considering it took your scribe no less than 30 minutes to get to the Chicagoland gem each day from a hotel that was at least 5 miles closer.
Elwood Blues would be proud, although we’re not sure what his brother Jake would have thought of the effort.
Pencil Whipping Chalice. Most matches are won or lost on the first tee depending on how the ubiquitous handicap negotiations go, but for Si Woo Kim the apparent injustice was set in motion the moment he signed up for this year’s PGA Tour Qualifying School Tournament.
Maybe the Korean teen missed the small print on his Q-School application, or perhaps he simply didn’t care, but Kim endured four stages of the Fall Classic (from pre-qualifying all the way through the six-round final stage, 324 holes for those scoring at home) to tie for 20th earlier this month at PGA West and earn what can only be considered a Tour Card Light.
Kim cannot become a Tour member until after his 18th birthday on June 28, which will leave him no more than six events, not counting majors or WGCs, as a member to qualify for the playoffs and retain his card.
Kim can play on sponsor exemptions (no more than 12) and Monday qualifying until his 18th birthday, but as one Tour type explained, “he will be auditing the Tour this year.”
The Big Miss-take Trophy. Hank Haney has explained that it was his plan all along to write about his time coaching Tiger Woods, and his 262-page tome was, by most accounts, an interesting, if not wonky, tale.
Where Haney seemed to cross the line was when his writing drifted into the personal aspects of his former student’s life, like this excerpt: “By the time (Elin) and Tiger married, she remained friendly but had become more guarded, even in her own home. She and Tiger developed a calm, almost cool relationship in front of other people, and conversations with them tended to be awkward and strained. I never saw them argue, but they weren’t openly affectionate either,” the swing coach wrote.
“The Big Miss” is an interesting story of Haney’s relationship with the greatest player of our generation. The armchair psychology, however, was the biggest miss.