Any other year, these stories would be a part of our annual list of Top 10 Newsmakers.
Think about it: In 2013, we watched a PGA champion spawn a phenomenon; a loudmouth Spaniard spark a month-long controversy; a two-time leukemia survivor make his tearful return to the game.
Great stories, all of them, but our GolfChannel.com writers, editors and producers didn’t even vote them in the top 10. Hey, it was just that kind of year – a year filled with controversies and major breakthroughs and seismic changes to the game.
So here, as our Top 10 Newsmaker series gets underway with No. 10, Vijay Singh, here is our list of Honorable Mentions, from No. 11 to No. 20:
No. 11 Lydia Ko: The New Zealand kid with the grown-up game defended her title on the LPGA tour, rose to No. 5 in the world, and then finally decided to join the play-for-pay ranks. Look out: She’ll be a full-fledged LPGA member come 2014.
No. 12 Jason Dufner: Created a hot Internet meme with his “Dufnering” pose, then reached a new level of celebrity with his win at the PGA Championship. His telegenic wife, the recipient of a post-victory butt-grab, is now quite popular, as well.
No. 13 Sergio Garcia: It was a rough spring for Garcia, who engaged in a childish back-and-forth with Tiger Woods at the Players, choked away the title just a day later, and then made a regrettable “fried chicken” comment later that month at an awards dinner that forced his team into emergency P.R. mode. It was little surprise, then, that he was winless in 2013.
No. 14 Weather: In all, 25 PGA Tour events were delayed at some point this year by an especially cranky Mother Nature, and it wasn’t just the usual wet stuff – there also was fog, snow, hail, sleet, frost, high winds, and darkness.
No. 15 European Solheim Cup team: The Europeans thrashed the home team at Colorado Golf Club, producing an 18-10 rout that was their first victory on foreign soil, their first time winning consecutive cups, and the largest margin of victory in event history. In other words, a wake-up call.
No. 16 Jarrod Lyle: Twenty months after beginning his second fight with myeloid leukemia, Lyle blinked back tears on the first tee as he returned at the Australian Masters. Even better? He made the cut, eventually tying for 57th.
No. 17 Justin Rose: The classy Englishman hit one of the best shots of the year, a 4-iron on the final hole at Merion that set up his major-championship breakthrough at the U.S. Open.
No. 18 No. 1s swoon: Yes, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald picked up late-season victories, but it was a largely forgettable 2013 campaign for that pair and other former world No. 1s, including Lee Westwood, who blew his chance at the Open and has slipped to world No. 24, and Yani Tseng, whose miserable year ended with hernia surgery.
No. 19 Wraparound schedule: The abbreviated 2013 season meant fewer playing opportunities for some of the Tour’s middle class, and with virtually no offseason there was little buildup for the start of the new 2013-14 campaign.
No. 20 Guan Tianlang: With a long putter pressed into his nonexistent belly, the 14-year-old didn’t record a three-putt on his way to becoming easily the youngest ever to make the cut at the Masters. His week in Augusta was marred by a slow-play penalty on Day 2, however, and he eventually finished 58th. Two weeks later, he finished last among those who made the cut at the Zurich Classic, then missed three consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour.