Golf awards 2016

National Club Golfer editor Dan Murphy (DM) and Lady Golfer editor Mark Townsend (MT) hand out the inaugural end of year golfing Oscars.

From the USGA’s outstanding governance to Tiger Woods’ comeback – who takes home the prizes?

Devon Loch award for front-running

Goes to: Shane Lowry

Golf awards

With a four-shot lead heading into the final round at Oakmont, it looked as though Lowry was going to follow in the footsteps of fellow Irishmen Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy by winning the US Open.

Lowry began impressively, finding fairways and sending trademark flushed, high, drawing iron shots into the heart of the greens. No birdies were forthcoming and as the bogeys added up around the turn it seemed that Lowry was more affected than Dustin Johnson (see below) by the latter’s rules brouhaha.

It all added up to 76 leaving the Offaly man in a distant second. Worse still, this was to be the last leaderboard he was seen on for the summer and he missed out on an expected Ryder Cup debut. DM

Michael McIntyre award for timing

Goes to: The USGA

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A month after the men’s mess of a US Open the USGA were at it again at the women’s version. Anna Nordqvist’s club barely touched the sand at the second extra hole of a play-off with Brittany Lang but wasn’t told about a two-shot penalty, after footage had been reviewed, until she had played her approach to the final green.

Lang then played safe, made par and won the game’s biggest prize. “It wasn’t any reason to question it but I’m disappointed by the timing. It certainly changed her game plan,” Nordqvist said. “But, hopefully we can all learn and hopefully we can all get better.” MT

The Frank Sinatra award for comebacks

Goes to: Tiger Woods

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He’s back. Or at least he’s back on the golf course, which is a great start. Yes, it was only his own limited-field, no-cut tournament in the Bahamas. Which isn’t exactly Carnoustie on a cold Thursday morning in July, but still.

He made more birdies than anyone in the field. And while his golf was by no means flawless, this was the equivalent of a footballer playing 20 minutes for the reserves after a cruciate ligament injury.

As a start, it will do nicely. Looking ahead, Tiger is exempt for all four Majors in 2017 (and the year after for that matter).

His lowly world ranking shouldn’t be too much of an issue, apart from in March and the build-up to Augusta when there are two WGCs he won’t be part of, unless there’s a dramatic early-season win… DM

The Tiger Woods award for not hitting a driver

Goes to: Ariya Jutanugarn

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At the start of the year Ariya Jutanugarn was 63rd in the world, she is now up to second. Just turned 21 the youngster became the first player in LPGA history to win her first three titles in consecutive fashion.

She then won the Women’s British Open by three shots at Woburn – and she doesn’t even use a driver! MT

The Gok Wan Award for Makeovers

Goes to: Martin Ebert

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Plenty thought the Ailsa at Trump Turnberry was already the best course in the land. Goodness knows what they are making of it now. Martin Ebert has created an entirely new golf course here: all 18 greens have been relaid while there are five completely new holes – the 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 14th.

You can pretty much add to that the 1st (extended by 60 yards with an entirely new green), the 4th (extended by 30 yards with a completely new green complex and sandy waste area between tee and green), the 5th (extended by 30 yards with new bunkers) and the 18th (new championship tee, new angle of play and new bunkers).

With his work at Royal Portrush set to be unveiled in the spring, there is every chance this is an award Ebert will be defending successfully in 12 months’ time. DM

The Dustin Johnson award for awkwardness

Goes to: the women’s British Open

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Here’s the juiciest of threeballs in 2016 – Suzann Pettersen, who claimed a hole when her opponent thought she had been conceded the hole at the Solheim Cup.

Add in that opponent in Alison Lee, who was reduced to tears in Germany, and, to top things off, complete the threeball with the incident’s biggest critic, Dame Laura Davies. MT

The Hubert Green award for winning your own tournament

Goes to: JB Holmes

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In 1977 at Turnberry, the Duel in the Sun, Green finished in third place – 10 shots behind Jack Nicklaus and 11 adrift of Tom Watson. Fast forward 39 years and Holmes was cast in the same role.

The American was 11 behind Phil Mickelson with the Champion Golfer of the Year, Henrik Stenson, another three clear. When you think that Holmes finished an impressive six under par, you realise that Stenson’s performance was truly something special.

It had to be to deny poor Phil, whose closing 65 would have won just about any other Open. DM

The lone wolf award for battling on

Goes to: Mel Reid

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This was very nearly the win of the year at the International Crown event in Chicago. Mel Reid had to face the might of Japanese duo Mika Miyazato and Haru Nomura on her own after Charley Hull fell ill overnight with asthma symptoms and a fever. Reid gave it a go and only lost at the last hole. The United States won the overall competition. MT

The Butchers’ Award for services to red meat

Goes to: Andrew Johnston

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Barnet’s finest started the year known to few beyond his home club of North Middlesex. He ends it a household name, both here and on the other side of the Atlantic.

First came a maiden European Tour win in the Spanish Open. Then he finished 7th at Wentworth, made the weekend in the US Open and had a run at the Claret Jug, finishing in the top 10. Welcome to the big time, Beef. DM

The Tim Finchem Award for being the most powerful person in golf

Goes to: Donald Trump

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Here on Planet Earth, job descriptions don’t get much bigger than that of POTUS. And so it has come to pass that a man who began the year debating with Martin Ebert (see above) over where to put the 9th green on the Ailsa ends it deciding America’s foreign policy towards China and Russia. These are truly strange times. DM

The FA Award for outstanding governance

Goes to: The USGA

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As the US Open entered its final nine holes on Sunday afternoon, any of half a dozen players could have emerged to be champion at Oakmont.

Then came a controversy involving a ball that may or may not have moved as Dustin Johnson prepared to putt on the 5th.

The biggest problem being that the USGA only informed him there was a problem on the 12th – and that they would have to review the incident with him when he had finished. Which meant nobody knew where they stood.

It was a farce, but at least, like all the best farces, it ended happily, with Johnson deservedly landing his first Major. No thanks to the USGA. DM

The Arnold Palmer Award for changing golf for the better

Goes to: Arnold Palmer

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Thanks for everything, Arnold. RIP The King. DM