2015: A Banner Year for Australian Golf
As the Christmas season descends upon us, we give pause to reflect on an eventful 2015 for Australian players around the world.
By the length of the straight, the standout Australian player of the year was Queenland’s Jason Day.
Jason Day (Credit: www.golffile.ie)
No need to use the word ‘arguably’ with this one, it was daylight second as the 28 year-old climbed to the top of the mountain and threw the monkey off his back with a record-setting low score to par in majors to win his first major – the PGA Championship – in a memorable battle with the Texan wunderkid Jordan Spieth.
Considered golf’s nearly man prior to this season, Day’s resume had included two PGA TOUR victories and the Individual title at the 2013 World Cup of Golf before the year began.
As he puts his feet up for Xmas, his PGA TOUR tally had swollen to seven with five victories in 2015, including the PGA and two FedEx Cup Playoff series wins. Day also led the U.S. Open under duress into the final day and was a putt away from joining the playoff for The Open Championship at St Andrews a month later.
All in all, it was a year that eclipsed even Greg Norman’s banner 1986 season, when the Shark won the Open Championship and multiple victories around the globe on his way to the world number one ranking.
Outside of Day, a number of Australians had seasons they would be only too pleased to replicate into the future.
Steven Bowditch took out his second PGA TOUR victory at the Byron Nelson Classic and made his debut appearance for the Internationals at the Presidents Cup matches in South Korea.
Minjee Lee (Credit: LPGA)
WA’s Minjee Lee took over as Australia’s highest ranked female player from Karrie Webb and was a model of consistency all year, breaking through for her first LPGA title at the Kingsmill Championship in just her second year in the professional ranks.
Rebecca Artis also enjoyed an very consistent season on the Ladies European Tour, winning her second title at the Scottish Open and finishing 7th on the Order of Merit.
One of the great stories of the year was the return to health of Marc Leishman’s wife Audrey, who fell gravely ill with toxic shock syndrome earlier this year. To everyone’s relief, she has made a recovery and Leishman’s golf has followed suit after returning to the Tour with a new perspective on life and golf following the ordeal.
The Victorian’s performance at The Open Championship was herculean and he was only overrun by the tremendous play of Zach Johnson, who prevailed over Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen in a four-hole playoff at St Andrews.
Marc Leishman ends an emotional year with victory at the Nedbank Challenge (Credit: GolfbytourMiss)
The year ended sweetly for Leishman with a dominant six-stroke victory at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa against quality opposition, the first time he has held up a trophy since the 2012 Travelers Championship in the U.S.
Who can forget Cameron Smith’s amazing performance at Chambers Bay, coming from nowhere to qualify and then tie for 4th place with a tap-in eagle in front of deafening roars on the 72nd hole, sewing up his Tour card and invitations to The Masters and U.S. Open next year?
Rod Pampling and Rhein Gibson also qualified for the 15/16 PGA TOUR season with their strong performances on the Web.Com Tour.
If Pampling can treat every golf course on Tour as if it’s The Australian Golf Club, where the Queenslander shot a 10-under 61 at the Emirates Australian Open in November, then he’ll be destined for great things next season.
30-year old Gibson is making his debut on the main tour which is great reward for many years of grind and perseverance on secondary tours around the world.
Bryden Macpherson was almost unstoppable in China towards the end of the year, wrapping up the PGA TOUR China Money List on the back of two victories to renew his Web.Com Tour membership for 2016.
Bryden Macpherson has won back to back titles on the PGA Tour China Series (Credit: PGA Tour China)
South Australian Adam Bland also was a victor on the Japan Golf Tour and was the leading money winner amongst the many Australians who ply their trade on that Tour.
Back home, the ageless Peter Senior showed the kids how’s it’s done at age 56, returning from the Champions Tour to win the Uniqlo Masters at Huntingdale for the third time.
Matt Jones is all smiles after securing his first Australian Open title
Matt Jones achieved a lifelong goal to claim the national championship at his home club with a battling final round victory over world number one Jordan Spieth at the Emirates Australian Open and the next generation was not under-represented as Nathan Holman triumphed in a playoff to claim the Austtralian PGA Chanpionship at RACV Royal Pines, wrapping up his European Tour card for the next two years in the process.
These are heady times for Australian golf and the portents for great things lie ahead in 2016.
Merry Christmas and a huge thank you to every one of our Golf Grinder fans.