Gift-giving is always a highlight of the holiday season, but in sports, especially golf, there’s different type of “gifts” given throughout the year.
These gifts aren’t wrapped and topped with a bow. In 2022, they were second chances, lucky saves, new events, major overhauls and more.
Here, we take a look back at some of the biggest gifts given in professional golf in 2022.
From: Mito Pereira, To: Justin Thomas (and Will Zalatoris)
Justin Thomas completed the largest 54-hole comeback in major history at the PGA Championship in May, but that comeback was only made possible by Mito Pereira’s historic collapse on the 72nd hole.
Pereira was the 54-hole leader and Cinderella story of the week up until the moment his drive on Southern Hills’ 18th hole went straight into the stream on the right side of the fairway.
After starting the hole a shot ahead of Thomas and Will Zalatoris, Pereira stopped the bleeding at double bogey, leaving him a shot behind the aforementioned duo and out of the playoff that would eventually secure Thomas his second-career major.
From: The rocks at TPC Southwind, To: Will Zalatoris
You could say Will Zalatoris lucked out on the third playoff hole of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, en route to his first PGA Tour win.
After two dramatic playoff holes between Zalatoris and Sepp Straka, the pair headed to TPC Southwind’s 151-yard, par-3 11th. There, Zalatoris’ tee shot barely carried the water before bouncing half a dozen times on the rock retaining wall and, miraculously, settling between the wall and rough.
After Straka rinsed his tee shot, Zalatoris played around with the idea of attempting the likely impossible shot. Ultimately, he decided to take a drop, winning with an up-and-down.
From: Linn Grant, To: Women’s golf
Linn Grant made history and busted down another barrier in the sport for women when she became the first female winner on the DP World Tour in June.
The Swedish star secured a nine-shot victory at the Scandinavian Mixed event after posting a final-round eight-under 64 at Halmstad Golf Club.
"I just hope that people recognize women's golf more, sponsors go to the Ladies European Tour and, hopefully, this pumps up the women's game a little bit more," Grant told Sky Sports after.
From: LIV, To: The stars of old
It’s no secret that LIV Golf has disrupted the golf ecosystem as we know it, but not just anyone is abandoning the Tour in favor for the rival league, with multiple players admitting as much.
Back in June, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood highlighted their age as a key factor in their decision to sign with LIV, even if it meant giving up their Tour cards and, potentially, their Ryder Cup futures.
"I want to play for as long as I possibly can. Longevity in this game at the age of 46, turning 47 soon, that's a factor. I want to play golf for as long as I possibly can and be competitive. So I'm happy,” Poulter said ahead of LIV’s first event in London.
"I'm not sure about the playing days, I'm 50 next April. (Ryder Cup) captaincy could be in jeopardy as well, but Ian pretty much covered it all," Westwood said.
Some other “older” stars that joined the league include Pat Perez (46), Bubba Watson (44), Sergio Garcia (42) and the OG franchise headliner: Phil Mickelson (52). That’s the short list.
From: Scottie Scheffler, To: Rory McIlroy
Can you classify a T-2 and $6 million payday as a meltdown? If you have the competitive fire of Scottie Scheffler, then yes, yes you can.
Everyone that follows pro golf knows the story by now: then world No. 1 Scheffler started Sunday at the Tour Championship with a six-shot lead before notching four bogeys and narrowly losing the title to now world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.
To start the day six shots back and go on to win? McIlroy will be the first to admit Scheffler blessed him at East Lake.
From: Lexi Thompson’s putter, To: In Gee Chun
Lexi Thompson began the Final Round at the KPMG Women’s PGA three strokes back from In Gee Chun, but she quickly took control, erasing that deficit by the third and leading by the fourth at Congressional.
But Thompson’s putter is always waiting in the wings for the right moment to ruin everything.
The back nine was a nightmare for the LPGA star; she carded four bogeys in the final seven holes. Meanwhile, Chun played her last six holes one under and secured her third major victory and fourth overall on the LPGA despite closing with two rounds of 75.
From: Danny Willett, To: Max Homa
The fall slate is often written off as boring and pointless, but the 2022-23 PGA Tour season got off to a dramatic start at the Fortinet Championship in September.
Max Homa chipped in from nearly 33 feet for birdie on the closing hole, but he also needed help from Danny Willett, who had a one-shot lead after 71 holes.
Willett proceeded to three-putt from close range, including two lip-outs from inside five feet, to give Homa his second-straight Fortinet title.
From: PGA Tour, To: Cardholders
It’s been a long-time coming, according to players and fans alike, but LIV’s existence was the final straw: fully exempt Tour players are guaranteed a payday starting with the 2022-23 season.
In August, the Tour announced some major changes ahead of the new season, including guaranteed money. That guaranteed payday, which is coming from the Earnings Assurance Program, is $500,000 to all fully exempt Tour players who compete in 15 tournaments throughout the season. For rookies and returning members (those who didn’t have status last season), that money is paid up front; players simply draw against it throughout the season from their earnings.
From: The powers that be, To: Jordan Spieth
Let’s be straight with this one: Jordan Spieth was given the gift of keeping his life when he managed to save par despite hitting off the edge of a cliff on Pebble Beach’s famous eighth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Spieth said he regrets doing it; his caddie Michael Greller wouldn’t even comment on it; and course officials at Pebble have changed the hole to keep copycats from trying the risky shot.
Golf is sometimes frustrating, sometimes fun, and sometimes terrifying. What a sport.
From: U.S. Adaptive Open, To: The world of golf
No sarcasm or schadenfreude here: the U.S. Adaptive Open was one of the best gifts the world of golf received all year.
The inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open took place at Pinehurst No. 6 in July, where fans around the world were reminded of the true spirit of golf. In the midst of plenty of drama elsewhere in the sport, the USAO saw people with disabilities getting the opportunity to compete and show their skill for the first time in a U.S. Open event.
Twenty-four players with handicaps better than scratch competed, with pros and amateurs and men and women competing alongside each other.
“This isn’t about money and contracts,” U.S. Golf Association CEO Mike Whan said, “this is about meaning.”