MICHAEL CARMAN’S GOLF COLUMN: 2009 was a good year on links

GOLF CAPTURED THE nation’s attention more so in 2009 than in any other year in my recent memory.

Normally, this would be worthy of revelry and enjoyment but with the Tiger Woods scandal dominating the headlines for the final portion of 2009 the attention has turned to the negative rather than the positive.

This column seeks to avoid the unpleasant and focus on those uplifting aspects of the game we share, so here is a recap of the high points of 2009, both locally and nationally.

Oh, and a happy birthday to Tiger. The greatest golfer of my lifetime turns 34 years old today.

January

Peninsula golfers had the clubs taken out of their hands by Mother Nature for much of the early portion of the year due to a lengthy bout of wintry conditions.

In all my years on the North Olympic Peninsula I had seen nothing like the stick-to-itiveness of that snowfall.

February

As seems to happen nearly every year (hint, move the tournament to a time of year with better weather) the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was shortened from 72 to 54 holes.

Dustin Johnson notched a four-shot win over my favorite lefty, Canadian Mike Weir.

March

In early March the North Olympic Peninsula golfing community lost nine holes of golf to the economic downturn.

Port Ludlow Associates announced that they would shutter the Trail Course at Port Ludlow Golf Club for the foreseeable future.

Some might say good riddance to a course that said good riddance to thousands of lost balls, but having worked at the Ludlow course for a summer it holds a special place in my heart.

Especially the beautiful No. 2 hole with its views of Mount Baker and Ludlow Bay.

On March 26, Sequim High School golfer Zoei Zbaraschuk defeated the Klahowya girls golf team by her herself after shooting a par 35 at Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course.

Zbaraschuk notched 35 Stableford points in a 92-34 Wolves win.

To close out the month, Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the sixth time, his 66th career victory at the time.

That’s three sixes in a row right there for Mr. Woods . . . foreshadowing perhaps?

April

Angela Cabrera claimed the first major of the PGA season, winning the green jacket at the Masters in a two-hole playoff with Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell.

Perry gave away the tournament with final round bogies on No. 17 and 18 and Cabrera became the first Argentinian to win the Masters with his steady play on the two playoff holes.

On April 27, the Olympic High School boys won the title at the 15th annual Duke Streeter Invitational at Peninsula Golf Club in Port Angeles.

May

The Port Angeles High School girls golf team earned its second straight Olympic League championship after knocking off Sequim 101-72 on May 5.

Port Townsend High School’s Ronnie Harrell was named Olympic League boys golf MVP.

He won the prestigious Tim Higgins Memorial Tournament in late April with a birdie chip-in on the final hole.

Sequim’s Zbaraschuk earned Olympic League girls MVP after taking medalist honors in every Olympic League match in 2009.

She would go on to finish ninth at the Class 2A state tournament in late May.

June

Raucous Long Islanders braved torrential rainfall and each other to hoot and holler at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course.

Phil Mickelson had the crowd in his hands after it was announced that the open would be his last tournament before taking time off to comfort his wife, who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mickelson opined that the U.S. team should move its Ryder Cup matches to Bethpage permanently because “We would have a huge advantage.”

July

Tom Watson almost pulled off the unthinkable, claiming a major championship at 59 years old.

Watson had the chance to win his sixth British Open and become the oldest major champion in history during regulation play, but was unable to make par on the final hole to drop into a tie with Stewart Cink.

Cink crushed Watson in a four-hole playoff for the title and his name instantly became a different-type of four-letter word for many of those in attendance at the Turnberry Resort.

August

The South Korean golf explosion moved from the LPGA to the PGA as Y.E. Yang became the first Asian-born player to win a men’s major championship after claiming the 91st PGA Championship on Aug. 16.

Yang’s accomplishment is all the more remarkable considering his opponent, Tiger Woods.

Yang’s stoic face in the final round lent credence to my belief that his heart was pumping ice water through his veins while holding off Woods.

His win marked the first time that Tiger had failed to win a major he had led after 54 holes.

August 26 marked the final appearance of long-time Peninsula Daily News golf columnist Billy Sallee.

Sallee wrote 457 columns and 37 special articles and was very kind and generous to me when I took the reigns in September.

September

Oklahoma State’s men’s golf dominated the Ping/Golfweek Invitational held Sept. 27-28 at Bremerton’s Gold Mountain Golf Course.

The Cowboys finished 22 shots ahead of Washington to claim the team title at 1-under 862 for the 54-hole tournament.

Oklahoma State also finished 1-2-3 in the individual standings with Peter Uihlein shooting a 5-under 211, Morgan Hoffman a 3-under 213 and Trent Whitekiller coming in at even par 216.

The trio were the only players to shoot par or better in the entire field.

October

SunLand Golf & Country Club’s Tyler Sweet won the two-day 2009 ESPN National Golf Challenge Club Pro Tournament in a one-hole playoff over Jim Ousley; head pro at Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello, Ind.

Sweet knocked off 110 other club pros at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.

On Oct. 26-28 Sweet and SunLand members Walter Clark, Mike Phelan and Fred Smith competed at the 2009 PGA McGladrey Team Championship at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.

The group rebounded from a slow start to post a 15-under par total on the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course and eventually they finished in a three-way tie for 12th.

November

Tiger Woods was involved in an auto accident at 2:25 a.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 27.

Rumors of infidelity had been bandied about in tabloids prior to the crash and were confirmed when he released a statement saying in part “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.”

And the repercussions on his personal life, career and the financial well-being of the game he loves and the companies he pitches for began immediately, haven’t ended and won’t be completely known for years.

According to a study conducted by two University of California at Davis economics professors–who looked at stock market returns for Woods’-sponsor companies in the 13 trading days immediately following his Thanksgiving revelation, ending a week after he announced he would be indefinitely leaving the sport–sticking by Tiger may have cost the companies as much as $12 billion.

The study didn’t have figures for the impact a missing Woods will have on the game of golf but during his injury-induced absence in 2008 television ratings were cut nearly in half.

December

Woods was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Decade for 2000-2009 and earned PGA Tour Player of the Year and PGA Player of the year for the 10th time in the last 13 years.

Come back soon Tiger. The 2010 season won’t be the same without you out there.

———-

Michael Carman is the golf columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at 360-417-3527 or [email protected]

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