It’s been a long year. Between the tournament winners, major champions, point races and everything in between, there was a lot to keep track of in 2019. So it’s understandable if a few moments may have slipped through the cracks.
After all, a year that will be remembered as the one where Tiger Woods slipped back into a green jacket was also the year in which he nearly got sideswiped out of the Masters. And Patrick Reed’s recent rules fiasco and Presidents Cup appearance happened in the same calendar year as an impromptu range meeting with a noted instructor.
They’re the type of moments that have drifted to the back of 2019’s greatest hits, and might evoke a response of, “Wait, that was this year?”
Without further ado, let’s take a trip down memory lane and reflect on a few items that did, in fact, happen in 2019:
Gravity almost costs Fowler in Phoenix
You may recall that Rickie Fowler captured the Waste Management Phoenix Open this year, finally shedding a personal monkey and doing so hours before you likely showed up to your Super Bowl party. So you may have missed the tournament’s critical juncture, when Fowler dropped after hitting into a penalty area and briefly walked away – only to watch his ball, once at rest, trundle back down a steep slope into the same hazard.
The subsequent additional penalty shot led to a triple bogey, and in minutes Fowler’s five-shot lead was down to one. He even briefly fell behind Branden Grace, but bounced back with a pair of closing birdies to win an official Tour event for the first time in nearly two years.
“Just had to find a way to get it done. It wasn’t very fun,” Fowler said. “It will be fun now, and it will be well worth it. Good learning experience. But yeah, I don’t want to have to go through that again.”
Reed and Leadbetter hold impromptu lesson
Struggling ahead of his Masters title defense, Reed ballooned to an opening-round 77 at the Valspar Championship in March. Afterwards, he called in an extra set of eyes, a move that raised plenty of eyebrows.
Reed met with noted instructor David Leadbetter ahead of the second round at Innisbrook, and the two were on the range again the next day even after Reed missed the cut. It seemed like an unusual pairing, and things took a turn when Reed explained that his wife had arranged the meeting while he was still on the course.
“The great thing is we’re basically on the same wavelength, her and I,” Reed said. “Because of that, before I even finished my (opening) round I didn’t even have to tell her that, hey, is there any way we can get someone in to just take a peek.”
Reed and Leadbetter continued to meet as the season progressed, and his results started to turn around a few months later. But when Reed won The Northern Trust in August to clinch a spot on the Presidents Cup team, it was longtime coach Kevin Kirk that was celebrating alongside his pupil.
The slip heard ‘round Augusta
Woods’ earth-shaking victory at the Masters nearly unraveled during the second round, thanks to a well-meaning officer and an inopportune patch of mud.
Woods’ tee shot on the 14th hole drifted into a stand of trees, where a Georgia Bureau of Investigation officer helped to control the patrons gathered near Woods’ ball. After Woods made contact with his second shot, he tried to get back toward the fairway – only to collide with the officer, who had slipped on some rain-soaked turf and slid forward, accidentally clipping the 43-year-old’s right foot.
Woods grimaced and began to flex his ankle, and while he never hit the ground it immediately sent shockwaves throughout the course given his injury history. Those concerns were quickly alleviated when he rolled in a 15-footer for birdie, and by the time he slipped into the green jacket two days later it was almost an afterthought.
But for a brief moment, the whole world was focused on a hobbling champ and the officer with mud-stained pants.
“It’s all good. Accidents happen,” Woods said. “I’ve had galleries run over me. When you play in front of a lot of people, things happen.”
Lexi passport woes derail Women’s British Open practice
Nearly 40 competitors in the Women’s British Open lost out on a practice round because Lexi Thompson misplaced her passport.
Thompson was ready to travel from the Evian Championship in France to the next major stop at Woburn when she realized she had mistakenly packed her passport in her golf bag – a golf bag which had been loaded into a van with those of 36 other competitors and was already en route to England.
The subsequent passport chase turned into a bona fide fiasco, with the shuttle van making a detour to unpack her paperwork before ultimately getting further delayed in traffic. While Thompson’s passport was retrieved, the bags of more than a quarter of the field didn’t make it to Woburn until late Monday afternoon – by which time the course was closed for practice rounds.
“I can’t apologize enough,” Thompson said.
The American star was already coming off a rough week at the Evian, where she hammered the host course and setup in a since-deleted Instagram post, and the transport snafu didn’t make things much better. She ended up finishing T-16.
Phil nearly misses final round because of hotel fire
Phil Mickelson’s 2019 season came to an early end at the BMW Championship, but as always with Lefty he managed to make it interesting.
Mickelson got locked out of his hotel room near Medinah Country Club ahead of the final round when the building was struck by lightning, causing a small fire. Complicating matters was the fact that Mickelson’s clubs and clothes for the day were still inside, putting his final tee time in jeopardy.
Mickelson ultimately arrived at the course less than 40 minutes before his tee time, changing shoes in the parking lot and taking a handful of swings on the pavement with a training aid.
“The building got struck by lightning right above me and blew out a brick chimney and caught fire a little bit,” Mickelson said. “The roads were closed and the hotel was closed.”
Mickelson shot a final-round 71 following the abbreviated warm-up, but he wasn’t the only player staying at the hotel who was inconvenienced by the fire. With his car blocked in by emergency vehicles, J.T. Poston ended up walking to the course before being picked up in a cart by a rules official.
Kevin Chappell shoots 59
This one may have gotten lost in the shuffle even though it happened just three months ago. A member of the 2017 Presidents Cup team, Chappell missed almost the entire 2019 season while recovering from a back injury. But in his first PGA Tour start in 10 months, he fired a second-round 59 at the 2019-20 season opener at The Greenbrier that included a run of nine straight birdies.
Chappell’s was the 11th sub-60 round in Tour history, the first since Brandt Snedeker at the 2018 Wyndham and the second ever to do so on the par-70 Old White TPC layout.
“I guess my thoughts are just extreme gratitude. I just couldn’t feel more lucky to be here right now,” Chappell said. “Ten months ago I was laying on my couch and couldn’t get up.”
Of course, the round might be a little less memorable because of what Chappell did on the other three days. Despite etching his name in the record books he finished T-47 for the event, shooting 73-72 over the weekend and somehow going four days without a single score in the 60s.