Which was your favorite major of 2012?
This year's majors are history, which leaves us only one thing to decide: Which one was your favorite? Was it Bubba Watson hitting his improbably hooked wedge to set up an overtime Masters win? Or Webb Simpson taking advantage of Jim Furyk’s late stumble in the U.S. Open? Or Ernie Els returning to major-championship relevance with his British Open victory (at Adam Scott’s expense)? Or Rory McIlroy putting on another dominating performance in the PGA Championship?
We asked our writers to pick their favorites. They were only too happy to oblige.
BY JASON SOBEL
We witnessed some pretty dramatic moments at the four major championships this year. Steady, solid Jim Furyk yanking one off the tee and eventually losing the U.S. Open. Adam Scott finishing with four consecutive bogeys to relinquish the. Open Championship to Ernie Els. Rory McIlroy once again blowing away a major field at the PGA Championship.
For my money, though, I'll always remember the 2012 majors for one thing more than any other.
It was the year some dude named Bubba won himself a green jacket.
This year's Masters Tournament was a fun-filled roller-coaster of thrills and despair. Phil Mickelson hit one of the all-time flop shots on Saturday, then flubbed one righty on Sunday. Louis Oosthuizen carded an albatross, but later lost in a playoff.
Then there's the aforementioned Bubba Watson, a big-hitting country boy who in many ways is the antithesis of the austere Augusta National membership. His hooked wedge from the trees to win on the second playoff hole was one for the ages.
And it helped the Masters lay claim to being the best major of 2012.
BY RANDALL MELL
Americans chanting Rory McIlroy’s name along the dunes on the shores of Kiawah Island will stay with us a long time. The Northern Irishman may have taken all the drama out of the PGA Championship on Sunday, but he left us a masterpiece doing so.
The victory is not quite there with Tiger Woods’ 15-shot triumph at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, or his 12-shot runaway at the '97 Masters. It’s not there with the unforgettable effort Jack Nicklaus gave us winning his last major at the Masters in '86, but it’s in the same wing of the museum with those works of art.
McIlroy gave us one of golf’s Rembrandts with his final-round bogey-free performance in blowing away the field by a PGA Championship-record eight shots.
Bubba Watson’s Masters victory was thrilling, Webb Simpson’s win at Olympic was classic U.S. Open survival golf, and Ernie Els’ British Open triumph after the epic collapse of Adam Scott was emotionally gripping, but McIlroy’s masterpiece will be remembered for the ruthless beauty that sets it apart as one of the game’s great major championship victories.
BY REX HOGGARD
Picking the year’s best major is akin to naming your favorite Beatles tune. 2012 has been an embarrassment of Grand Slam riches from Bubba Watson’s Masters magic act to Rory McIlroy’s PGA walk-off. Only one, however, delivered equal parts triumph and tragedy – the Open Championship.
Although Jim Furyk’s collapse and Webb Simpson’s performance at the U.S. Open certainly qualify as a complete drama, the last hour at Lytham was major pressure at its most extreme.
With the engraver’s hand poised over the claret jug and cruising along with a four-stroke advantage with four holes to play, Adam Scott closed with four consecutive bogeys. It may have lacked the theatrics of Jean Van de Velde’s Carnoustie collapse, but given the Australian’s pedigree and performance through 67 holes it was no less shocking.
It is Ernie Els’ epic charge that stands the British Open above all others, however. The South African’s final-nine 32 was epic, capped by a winding 15-footer for birdie at the last.
Just four months earlier the South African, a decade removed from his last major victory and driven to extremes (the long putter) in an attempt to rediscover his game, was scrambling just to play in the majors.
It was, with apologies to Scott, the perfect finish. The perfect major.
BY RYAN LAVNER
The best major of 2012? Certainly, it has to be the one with the best finish. (Sorry, Ernie.) Deep in the pine straw, on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, at the most iconic course in the U.S., Bubba Watson played a seemingly unfathomable, wickedly curving wedge from the trees on the 10th hole, a shot that nestled to within 15 feet of the cup and set up the win at the Masters.
Average golfers either whiff attempting that shot or, worse, hit themselves in the shin. Few Tour players even have the capacity to imagine that shot, let alone the audacity to pull it off at that critical juncture. And, come on, how good a story was that? A guy with awesome power and a homemade swing . . . and a newly adopted baby back home in Florida . . . and his mom waiting by the edge of the green . . . and his alma mater, the University of Georgia, only two hours away, so the delirious Bulldogs fans barked and cheered his name . . . and all of this less than two years after Bubba’s father passed away, the emotions from which were still quite raw.
The 2013 Masters, and beyond, will have a hard time topping that.
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