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Everybody loves a good cliché: Looking back on 2012

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Everyone loves a good cliché. The 2012 golf season has given us plenty of moments defined by such hackneyed phrases.

• • • 

Rory McIlroy won early this season at the Honda Classic in March but then cooled his jets for the next few months including three missed cuts and lackluster showings in the year's first three majors. Amid his 'struggles,' McIlroy came under fire for chasing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki rather than giving chase late on Sundays. Everyone analyzed, scrutinized and many were convinced if McIlroy ditched the girl he would bag some more wins. And then, everything changed. McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Then he won the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in August. Then he won the very next week at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick. And guess what? He's found his way back into the winner's circle with Wozniacki on his arm – and in his heart – every step of the way. So what's love got to do with it? Maybe everything and maybe nothing. But critics be damned, the kid got the girl and the trophies, which goes to show ... love conquers all.

• • • 

Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot lead in the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open, including a triple bogey-8 at the 72nd hole that forced him into a playoff with Brandt Snedeker. Stanley lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole, but went on to win the next week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ironically, thanks to the final-round collapse of Spencer Levin (Levin blew an eight-shot lead in the final round in Phoenix). Stanley’s collapse at the Farmers could have scarred him for life, but instead, he persevered, which just goes to show you ... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

• • • 

Ernie Els failed to qualify for the Masters this season for the first time since 1994. When The Masters committee opted not to extend an invite to the South African Hall of Famer, he said he understood the club's decision and acknowledged he had only himself to blame. '(Missing the Masters this year is) not going to change my life. It's just one of those things. I'll be back there next year,' Els said after failing to qualify. And ya know what? He will be back next year and then some. Els captured the Open Championship four months later at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his first major victory in 10 years, which just goes to show you ... if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

• • • 

Kevin Na notched his first PGA Tour victory last year at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, but earlier this season he was on the cusp of another major milestone. At The Players in May, Na held the 54-hole lead by one shot, despite much criticism and on-course ridicule from fans reagrding his slow play. Na struggled with pulling the trigger all three rounds at TPC Sawgrass and was put on the clock by Tour officials, sometimes taking more than the allotted 60 seconds to hit shots. Na went out Sunday and tried to speed up his play but shot a final-round 4-over 76. Na would have been better served had he stuck with his game plan Sunday – although it would have been a slow, excruciating round to watch, which just goes to show you ... you should march to the beat of your own drum.

• • • 

After Luke Donald bogeyed the par-5 18th hole at TPC Boston in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, he decided to take to Twitter to let out his angst on architect Gil Hanse’s redesign. On Saturday evening, Donald tweeted to his nearly 300,000 followers, “Nothing quite like hitting my best shot of the day into the last and walking off with a bogie, what a terribly re-designed green #sourtaste.' In what was supposed to be a private message, Donald then tweeted his cellphone number and called Hanse an offensive name. Though he quickly realized his mistake, Donald’s comments were posted on several websites by late Saturday evening. Donald apologized the next day and although he said that he would likely take a hiatus from the social media tool, he has remained an active tweeter. Although now it appears he thinks before he tweets, which just goes to show you ... if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

• • • 

In the first round of the season-opening Tournament of Champions, Nick Watney's caddie, Chad Reynolds, was accused – and later found to be innocent – of testing the surface of the seventh green while lining up a putt. That was the first rules gaffe of the 2012 season, but far from the last. From Graeme McDowell’s two-shot penalty in the first round of the BMW Championship for grazing a leaf attached to a twig while addressing his ball in a bunker, to Carl Pettersson being assessed a two-stroke penalty for moving a leaf during his swing while hitting from a hazard on the first hole Sunday at the PGA Championship, we’ve seen players become more and more victimized by the rules this year. The players aren’t complaining about having to follow rules, they’re complaining about being penalized for things out of their control or things they did without intent. The rules of golf are antiquated and perhaps, in need of an overhaul, which just goes to show you ... the rules were meant to be broken – or in this case, at least amended.

• • • 

Tiger Woods, 36, and Phil Mickelson, 42, had never both missed the cut in the same event in 17 years playing alongside each other as professionals. That all changed this year when they both missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic, where Woods posted rounds of 71-69 and Mickelson countered with scores of 71-71 as each failed to finish inside the number.

The missed cut by Woods was just the ninth of his career and it was Mickelson’s 64th. An unfortunate fate for the two golfers and for fans watching that week, but 197 previous tournaments where at least one of the game’s two biggest stars cashed a paycheck on the weekend is still a tremendous feat. We would have loved to see the streak continue, but it just goes to show you ... all good things must come to an end.