10. Guan Tianlang making Masters cut despite penalty
In what is believed to be the first slow-play penalty issued in Masters history, 14-year-old phenom Guan Tianlang was docked a shot in the second round at Augusta. The penalty turned his 2-over 74 into a 75, yet he still advanced to the weekend and became the youngest player to ever make the cut at the Masters. Oh yeah, and he handled it with grace and poise that far exceeded what anyone would have expected.
9. Solheim Cup upset
Since the biennial matches got their start in 1990, the U.S. team had never lost the Solheim Cup on home soil … until 2013. The U.S. squad fell to the Europeans, 18 to 10, at Colorado Golf Club in what was never really a close match. The victory also marked the first time Europe won the Solheim Cup in back-to-back events.
8. Tiger's major woes
Tiger Woods won five times in 2013, won the Vardon Trophy, was the top money earner, won Player of the Year and again ascended to world No. 1. So what didn't he do? Oh, that's right ... he failed to win a major for the fifth year in a row.
7. Stricker shining on abbreviated schedule
What good is being ‘normal,’ anyway? For Steve Stricker in 2013, breaking the mold – and significantly shortening his schedule – almost landed the 46-year-old his first major championship. What’s more is that he recorded four runner-up finishes in 13 starts, earned a trip to East Lake for a shot at the $10 million FedEx Cup prize, and he played his way onto the Presidents Cup team. Not bad for a semi-retired golfer.
6. Yani's demise
With 15 LPGA titles - including five majors - under her belt, it was widely believed that it would be only a matter of time before Yani Tseng returned to her winning ways. But that didn't happen in 2013. After holding the world No. 1 ranking for 109 weeks, Tseng was overtaken in March and has fallen as low as 32nd. She is winless on any tour, anywhere in the world since March 2012.
5. Stenson's dominating season
In 2012, Henrik Stenson had fallen to 206th in the world. But in 2013, amidst a lingering battle with a wrist injury, the strapping Swede made his second career comeback from obscurity. He posted 12 top-10 finishes worldwide in '13, including wins at two FedEx Cup Playoff events and the DP World Tour Championship. He also became the first player to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same season. How Swede it is, indeed.
4. McIlroy's struggles
Rory McIlroy began the year ranked No. 1 in the world, had two majors under his belt and was voted Player of the Year on both the PGA and European tours the previous season. One mega-deal with Nike, trouble on lover's lane and some legal issues later, and McIlroy's year was clouded by doubt and despair. He capped off the year with a win at the Australian Open, but it was hardly any consolation for the Wonderkid's underwhelming campaign.
3. Park's major run
Inbee Park caused quite a stir in 2013. For starters, she won the first three majors of the season which sparked a heated debate - if she won a fourth would it be considered a Grand Slam? Seems like an easy answer, except that the LPGA added a fifth major to the schedule this year. She didn't go on to win either of the final two, but her feat is among some of the most impressive accomplishments in the history of the game.
2. Mickelson winning British Open
Be honest – no chance you saw Phil Mickelson winning the Open Championship before the U.S. Open. That is, if you had him winning either of them at all. When he finally learned to love links golf ('I used to hate it and now I love it,' Phil said in July), he secured the third leg of the career Grand Slam. Can anyone say 'Pinehurst in 2014?'
1. Spieth's year
From a boy on a college campus to the Big Man on the PGA Tour canvas, no one saw Jordan Spieth coming in 2013. He began the year with no status on any tour, but became the first teen to win a PGA Tour event in more than 80 years when he secured the John Deere Classic, racked up three runners-up, six other top 10s and nearly $4 million in earnings. He made it all the way to the Tour Championship and became the youngest ever to represent the U.S. at the Presidents Cup. Soooo ... what were you doing when you were 19?
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