Hello. Can you keep it down, please? It was the National Club Golfer Christmas party last night and we’re all a bit delicate. It is also the reason there is no video version of this week’s edition of The Slam, so I’m just going to poke my keyboard several hundred times and see what comes out at the other end. Starting with Brooks Koepka…
Koepka steals Ariya’s thunder
First up, a shout out to Ariya Jutanugarn for her inclusion at No. 4 in ESPN’s The Dominant 20 – their rundown of the most dominant athletes of 2018.
Jutanugarn won three times in 2018, including her second major at the US Women’s Open.
The 23-year-old World No. 1 also won EVERY individual achievement for which she was eligible:
- LPGA Tour money winner ($2,667,983)
- Race to the CME Globe winner (and its $1,000,000 bonus)
- LPGA Tour Player of the Year
- Rolex Annika Major Award (best overall performance in the majors)
- Vare Trophy (lowest scoring average over the season with 69.415)
She also set season records for most rounds in the 60s, with 57, and most birdies, with 470.
470! Trying to work how long I’d have to play golf for before I holed 470 birdies, but when you start having to round up to the nearest thousand years then there’s not really any point…
Unfortunately, Jutanugarn’s inclusion has been completely overshadowed, particularly in golf circles, by Brooks Koepka’s snub from the list, which is a tremendous shame.
On the flipside, it is also utterly ridiculous that he was left out.
Koepka’s hardly made it a secret that he feels like he doesn’t get the respect he deserves – he was left bemused by media snubs at both the US Open and PGA Championship – and he made his feelings known on Twitter:
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) December 11, 2018
You have to admire Koepka’s restraint of opting for the face-with-monocle emoji approach over the “Where the hell am I?” tactic.
Not long after, I tweeted this:
ESPN’s most dominant athletes of 2018 list…
No Brooks Koepka.
One horse. https://t.co/LG3HIW6wYp
— Alex Perry (@AlexPerryNCG) December 11, 2018
I’ll hold my hands up, I tweeted that before I’d even noticed Jutanugarn’s inclusion, but my overall point about Koepka still stands.
Now whether or not you consider a horse an athlete – I don’t, for what it’s worth – is your own call. But there are certainly cases for some of the others to be shuffled aside for Koepka.
Just a reminder: Koepka won two majors out of the three he played – he missed The Masters due to injury that ruled him out for much of the start of the year, remember – as well as the CJ Cup against a strong field, he was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, and went to World No. 1 for the first time.
Not really all that different to Novak Djokovic, who also won two of his sport’s majors, as well as two regular season wins and reclaimed top spot in the world rankings. And all this despite his season not really starting until June having undergone elbow surgery.
I should make it clear I’m not arguing against Djokovic’s inclusion – he absolutely should be in there – but his season was almost a carbon copy of Koepka’s and that was good enough to get in at No. 10.
But venture further down the list and it’s easy to see why Koepka is irked. Basketball ubergod Lebron James, for example, is in at 13 and his team didn’t even win the NBA title, nor did James win any individual awards. The NBA’s MVP, for what it’s worth, was James Harden, who sneaks in at 19. How can there be two “most dominant athletes” in the same competition? It just doesn’t make sense.
But still, Ariya is flying the flag for golf and that’s fantastic.
The Slam continues on the next page, where Kevin Kisner has some very interesting stuff to say about Patrick Reed and a hilarious gaffe from the Golf Channel…