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Did the task force make the difference? Maybe. Bottom line, though, is that the U.S. won a Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008, defeating Europe 17-11 at Hazeltine National. It was the most lopsided U.S. win since 1981.
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With three holes to play in the Tour Championship, things didn’t look good for Rory McIlroy, who was three strokes off the lead. But then he showed what it means to be Rory McIlroy. He holed out for eagle on the 16th hole, then birdied the last to get into a playoff with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore. On the fourth playoff hole McIlroy buried a 15-foot birdie putt to win the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and oh, yeah, $11.5 million.
3 / 23
Despite some top players choosing to skip the event, golf’s return to the Olympics was generally considered a success. Justin Rose certainly considered it a success, as he won the first Olympic golf gold medal in 112 years. He also became the first person to make a hole-in-one in Olympic golf history - a 7-iron from 189 yards on the par-3 fourth hole on Thursday.
4 / 23
When you win five times, including two majors, and are the FedEx Cup champion, you’re going to have people wondering what you can do for an encore. Jordan Spieth wasted no time answering that question, winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions by a whopping eight strokes.
5 / 23
The third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open was the big one – literally as well as figuratively. A crowd of 201,003 set a PGA Tour attendance record (guess which event already held the record?) A Sunday crowd of 65,000 resulted in a weekly total of 618,365, wiping out the previous record of 564,368, set last year.
6 / 23
One semifinal of the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship was a dream duel between No. 2 Jason Day and No. 3 Rory McIlroy. Day was coming off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, while McIlroy hadn’t lost in the Match Play since 2014. Day’s 1-up win advanced him to the final against Louis Oosthuizen (where he would win again) and assured Day of regaining the No. 1 world ranking.
7 / 23
Jason Day said he wants to be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats. Well, shooting a 63 at TPC Sawgrass won’t hurt. Nor will going wire to wire to win The Players Championship by four shots, which is what the Australian did for his seventh victory in a 10-month span. "I'm very motivated to win as much as I can right now,” Day said.
8 / 23
A golf tournament is a marathon, not a sprint, and nothing illustrates that better than the fact that Brandt Snedeker won at Torrey Pines after making the cut on the number.
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In a field that featured the Nos. 1, 3 and 5 players in the world, No. 6 took home the title in Abu Dhabi. That would be Rickie Fowler, who chipped in for birdie on the 17th hole on his way to a one-shot win. But even Fowler rejected suggestions that he should be part of a “Big Four,” saying he needs to win a major before becoming part of that conversation.
10 / 23
All Vaughn Taylor was trying to do at Pebble Beach was get a top-10 finish. He hadn’t won in more than a decade, and he started the final round six shots behind Phil Mickelson, so he had no illusions about winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But he made four birdies in a row on the back nine, shot a 7-under 65 that looked like it would get him into a playoff, then finally exhaled when Mickelson missed the 5-footer he needed to force extra holes. “Just absolutely amazing,” Taylor said.
11 / 23
Any questions about Adam Scott’s ability to transition back to a standard-length putter from a broomstick were answered at the Honda Classic, where the Australian won his first event without a long putter since 2010. Then Scott drove home the point the following week, winning at Doral, too.
12 / 23
Jason Bohn thought he was merely feeling aftereffects of a recent bout with the flu, so when he was told he had to go to the hospital after the second round of the Honda Classic, he initially resisted. Once he got to the hospital and was told that his left anterior descending artery - the one known as "the widowmaker" - was 99 percent blocked, he was shocked. Bohn wound up sitting out two months, returning to the Tour for the RBC Heritage, where he rallied to make the cut. “I put a little stress on the old ticker today,” he said, “so that's good."
13 / 23
The Irish Open is, for obvious reasons, near and dear to Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy’s heart. McIlroy, who had missed the cut in the event in each of the past three years, won going away this time, making a tap-in eagle on the final hole to win by three shots.
14 / 23
While we’re still waiting for Sergio Garcia to win a major, he did accomplish something in 2016 that may have even more significance for him. By winning the Byron Nelson for his ninth PGA Tour title, Garcia tied the late Seve Ballesteros for most wins by a Spanish-born player.
15 / 23
Amid devastating flooding in West Virginia, the PGA Tour canceled The Greenbrier Classic. It was only the third Tour event in the past 20 years to be canceled because of weather issues.
16 / 23
Dustin Johnson’s first major, this year’s U.S. Open, was a long time in coming. DJ had been a frequent bearer of the unofficial title “best player who hasn’t won a major.” Once he did win one, though, it felt so good that he also won the next tournament he entered. For DJ, that was the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, in which he outdueled world No. 1 Jason Day.
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59 is often considered golf’s magic number, but what’s better than a 59? A 58. That’s what Germany’s Stephan Jaeger shot in the first round of the Web.com Tour's Ellie Mae Classic in San Francisco n July. It was the first 58 in a U.S. professional event.
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Less than a month after Jaeger’s 58, Jim Furyk shot the same score in the final round of the Travelers Championship. It was the first 58 in the history of the PGA Tour, and it took Furyk by surprise. "You don't wake up on Sunday morning with an 8:41 tee time thinking that anything exciting is going to happen," he said.
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Perhaps this could become an Olympic event, like the biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing with shooting. But if putting and spelling does make it into the Games, Jordan Spieth has some work to do. At The Barclays, he went up against 13-year-old Jairam Hathwar, co-champion of this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, and, in the words of a USA Today headline “got destroyed.” It was clear Spieth was toast when he misspelled “zoysia,” a grass commonly found on golf courses.
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Putting was not Rory McIlroy’s strength in 2016, but you wouldn’t know it from his final round in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Six shots off the lead after 54 holes, McIlroy closed with a 65 to record his 20th career worldwide win. “I knew my game was in good shape, I just needed to do something with the putting,” he said afterward. “I found something.”
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In 2015 Bryson DeChambeau became just the fifth player to win both the NCAA Div. 1 individual championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year, joining Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore. Golf fans were eager to see how DeChambeau, whose irons are all the same length, would fare on the PGA Tour. They’ll get that chance in 2017 after DeChambeau earned his PGA Tour card by winning the Web.com Tour Finals-opening DAP Championship.
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Speaking of players we want to see on the PGA Tour, Andrew “Beef” Johnston has to be high on the list. And like DeChambeau, he earned his way onto golf’s main stage, finishing high enough (fourth) in the Web.com Tour’s Boise Open to earn his PGA Tour card for 2017.
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Rod Pampling hadn’t won on the PGA Tour since Bay Hill in 2006. In the ensuing years he had lost his PGA Tour card and spent two years on the Web.com Tour. But the 47-year-old Australian hadn’t forgotten how to play. He closed with a 6-under 65 for a two-shot victory in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. “Coming back from what we've had the last few years, to get a win under the belt, it's phenomenal,” he said. “Amazing.''
Image of Bryson DeChambeau and how his body has transformed, through the years, from an NCAA champion to becoming a multiple PGA Tour winner.
Here's a look at some of the best photos of the Match II with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady from Medalist Golf Club.
A look at some of the best photos from the TaylorMade Driving Relief, won by the team of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.