As another draws to a close we thought we would have our own golfing “Reeling in the Years” for the year that was 2014.
From an Irish perspective we have to start with Rory’s two major wins. The Open win for Rory was his third different major title; as a result of this win he joined an exclusive club of only three golfers to have won three majors by the age of 25. The other two being Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Rory went through a blistering run of form wining the WGC Bridgestone Invitational a week later, followed by his fourth major win at the USPGA. The WGC win saw him reclaim the top spot in the world rankings, having started the year in sixth position. If you look at Rory’s scoring for his Open, WGC and USPGA wins it reads, 66-66-68-71 (-17, Open), 69-64-66-66=265 (-15, WGC) and 66-67-67-68=268 (-16, USPGA), a total of -48 under! That says it all really with only one round not in the 60’s.
With that sort of form it was looking ominous for the Americans leading into the Ryder Cup, Rory duly delivered with 3 points to help the European Team retain the Ryder Cup.
2014 was a vintage year for the winning Ryder Cup captain; Paul meticulously planned and executed the perfect game plan to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe. This was reflected only a couple of days ago when Paul deservedly picked up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award.
Another consistent and winning year for G-Mac who successfully defended his French Open Title in 2014. Graeme also had ten top 10 finishes and contributed with 3 big points in the defense of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. G-Mac is currently ranked 15th in the world and is certainly a player to look out for in the majors this year, particularly in the US Open which will be held at Chambers Bay a traditional links style course which will suit G-Mac’s game.
Shane Lowry completed another fine year in 2014, the Offaly native moved inside the world’s top 50 which virtually ensures him an invite to next year’s Masters. Shane will be competing in all four of the majors in 2015 and there is no reason why he can’t win one of them.
Shane has moved up 31 spots in the world rankings in 2014 largely due to a consistent second half of the year. A second place finish at the BMW Championship, along with a strong finish at the season ending DP World Championship means Shane is going into 2015 with lots of momentum.
2014 also saw Pádraig Harrington record his first win since 2012, the three times major winner had a difficult 2013 by his own high standards. It was fantastic to see Pádraig back winning again, his win at the Indonesia Open was his 29th professional victory. We hope this win will provide him with the momentum to have an even better 2015.
Unfortunately 2014 was not one to remember for the slimmed down Darren Clarke slipping outside the world’s top 400 players. Michael Hoey moved up 43 places in the world rankings this year thanks to five top ten finishes including a good performance at this year’s Irish Open finishing on a tie for eighth. Damien McGrane was very unlucky to lose the Russian Open to David Horsey, the Meath man was piped when Horsey forced a playoff by chipping in for an eagle on the 17th.
The Irish Open
This year the Irish Open returned to Fota Island in Cork, where Finn Mikko Ilonen shot a new course record 64 en route to his wire to wire -13 under victory. The course record only lasted a day though as it was bettered by a 63 cared by England’s Danny Willett.
The Irish Open moves to the Royal County Down Golf Club for 2015, the event will be hosted by Rory McIlroy’s, Rory Foundation. The Rory Foundation raises funds for children’s charities across the world. World number 9 Rickie Fowler will be teeing it up with Rory at Royal County Down next year at the Irish Open.
Here’s wishing the best to all Irish golfers in the coming year and looking forward to a successful 2015.