Sport Golf

Monday 18 December 2017

World Players of the Year

Karl MacGinty

1 Martin Kaymer

The super-cool German is a shoo-in for World Player of the Year. Kaymer (25) won the first of what should be several Majors at August's US PGA, following up with victory in his next two Tour events. He is a worthy Race to Dubai champion and is the most potent threat to Lee Westwood as world No 1.

2 Graeme McDowell

After a year of astonishing achievement, in which he became the first European since Tony Jacklin in 1970 to win the US Open, McDowell pushed Kaymer all the way down in Dubai last weekend and now will press him for European Tour Player of the Year. G-Mac has three Tour victories in 2010 to the German's four but his talismanic Ryder Cup performance must give the selection committee food for thought.

3 Lee Westwood

Eyebrows hooked up quizzically in the States on October 31 when Westwood, recovering at home that weekend from a lengthy calf injury, ended the 281-week reign of Tiger Woods as world No 1. In Europe, however, the Englishman's consistency over the past two years received due recognition, not to mention this summer's victory at the St Jude and his second-place finishes at the US Masters and British Open.

4 Jim Furyk

A switch clearly flicked on for Furyk (40) when he won Tiger's year-ending Chevron Challenge in 2009. His first PGA Tour victory in over two years ensued at the Transitions in March and he struck again at the Verizon Heritage. Finally, the 2003 US Open champion scooped an $11.3m double by winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup in September.

5 Luke Donald

This chap never has to walk too far to find his ball, but deadly accuracy with his irons and a rapier-sharp short game have turned Donald into a money-making machine on the US and European Tours. He picked up his first win in four years (much of it spent battling wrist problems) at May's Madrid Masters.

6 Louis Oosthuizen

Winning the British Open is special but doing it at St Andrews is every professional golfer's dream. Oosthuizen (28) overpowered the Old Course and the rest of the field with a performance perfectly in keeping with his early season, when he had four top-five finishes before winning the Open de Andalucia. Watch out America, he's headed your way in 2011.

7 Phil Mickelson

Golf needed something special to escape the shadow cast by Tiger's scandal and Mickelson delivered with a win of the ages at the Masters, followed by a wonderfully emotional embrace with wife Amy, at that time embroiled in her battle with breast cancer, and their children -- a rare moment to treasure in a difficult year for Lefty.

8 Ernie Els

He may dislike the nickname 'Big Easy' but Els makes golf look effortless. How good to see the South African end a two-year drought with back-to-back victories in the CA World Championship and Arnie Palmer's Invitational at Bay Hill.

9 Matt Kuchar

Victory at the Barclays, the first of the FedEx Cup play-offs, was the highlight of a remarkably consistent year in which the 32-year-old from Florida topped the US PGA Tour's Money List and made his Ryder Cup debut.

10 Dustin Johnson

Two days before his 26th birthday, Johnson led by three going into the final round of the US Open at Pebble Beach, where he'd won back-to-back at the AT&T National Pro-Am. Yet he'd endure a meltdown in the first three holes that Sunday, shooting 82. Then a tragic two-stroke penalty on the 18th cost him a place in sudden-death at the US PGA after he'd grounded his club in a 'bunker' trampled by spectators. If there's a god of golf, Johnson must win a Major soon.

Irish Independent

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