Golf has never seen a year like 2022.
But through the bad and the ugly, there’s a lot to celebrate when we gather around the table this time of year and reflect.
Here are five things to be thankful for this year as a golf fan.
Be thankful for a whimsical new golf star.
South Korean Joohyung “Tom” Kim, 20, burst onto the scene this year while playing for a special temporary PGA Tour membership. Need to win the Windham Championship to get into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Kim He laughed at the specter of the quadruple opening He became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Tour and the second-youngest Tour winner since World War II. And Kim didn’t even care to look in the amount of the winner’s check – just like his childhood star, Tiger Woods.
His outstanding year earned Kim a place in the international squad for the Presidents Cup, and he Stole the show on Saturday at Quail Hollow, sealing victory over the powerful American duo Xander Schavelli and Patrick Cantlay. Kim emerged from his winning shot and threw his cap to the ground in a Tiger-esque celebration.
“He’s been a great gift to our sport,” said international captain Trevor Immelmann. “He has the potential to be a global star.”
And Kim was the gift that kept on giving. Two weeks after the Presidents Cup, Kim beat Cantlay and won the Shriners Children’s Open, becoming the first player to win two rounds before his 21st birthday since Woods. Kim hopes to match his childhood hero on his path to worldwide stardom.
“Tiger has 82 wins on the PGA Tour,” Kim said. “Until I reach 83, it will be difficult for me to think a little differently.”
Be thankful that two of the LPGA’s biggest stars are back in full force.
During the 2022 season, both Nelly Korda and Daniel Kang received tough news.
In March, Korda was diagnosed with a blood clot in her right arm, had surgery in April and returned to competition at the US Women’s Open in June. At that event, Kang revealed that she had a tumor on her spine and would be out indefinitely.
Kang returned at the CP Women’s Open in late August. A month later at the NW Arkansas Championships, she forced a playoff by holeshotting a 40-yard chip on the 72nd hole, though she eventually fell to Atthaya Thitikul.
Kang said afterwards: “What I did to get here to the end, even to argue is a win for me.”
Meanwhile, Korda has had four top 10s in her first five starts and is back in the winner’s circle – and being world No. 1 – in the Pelican Women’s Championship.
“I think there have been more downs than ups this year,” Korda said, “and I think that’s what makes this (the win) so much sweeter for me.”
Be grateful for the 2022 Golf Cinderella Story.
In August 2021, Stephen Alker, 18 days after his 50th birthday, qualified for the PGA Tour Champions Boeing Classic and finished T-7. With a top 10 finish, the New Zealander entered the next event and then scored six consecutive top 10s before taking his first win. Alker has never scored a top 10 in his 122 career PGA Tour starts.
However, Alker wasn’t a one-hit wonder. He won four times in ’22, including the Senior PGA Championship, which propelled him to a season-long Charles Schwab Cup title.
“The pressure is on [Alker] Padraig Harrington said: From the beginning of the year all the way through he had a lead and several of us had him holding on all year. It’s impressive that he not only held on, but won in style.”
Be thankful Lydia Ko is back in her dominance.
In 2021, Kou ended an unhelpful 1,084-day drought. A year later, she was the LPGA Female Player of the Year.
The 25-year-old has won three times, captured the Vare Trophy for the second year in a row and claimed the season-long run for the CME title – but he fell short of making history.
The New Zealander collected $4,364,403 in earnings for the season – $591 short of Lorna Ochoa’s all-time record, which she set in 2007.
However, Ko is on her way to soon reaching another historic milestone. Her breakout year brought her within 2 points of the 27 needed to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Enppi Park was 27 years old when it reached this level in 2016, and is currently the youngest player ever to qualify.
If Ko continues her dominance in 2023, we (and she) can be thankful next year for being the youngest of the esteemed LPGA bunch.
Be thankful for Tiger Woods’ recent comeback.
In December 2015, after a series of injuries, Woods said that anything else he achieved in his career would be “gravy”. Well, that gravy consists of three wins, including the 2019 Masters — and a 2022 comeback run.
Woods suffered severe leg injuries in a single car crash in February 2021 while recovering from his fifth back surgery. The 46-year-old will likely never play a full schedule again, however, and this year he has managed to play on some of golf’s biggest stages. In his first competitive outing since November 2020, Woods shot a 1-under 71 at the Masters on his way to making the cut.
“I don’t think words can really describe it considering where I was a little over a year ago and what my hopes were at the time to end up here and be able to play all four Tours,” Woods said after finishing 47th. “Until a month ago, I didn’t know if I could do it.”
He struggled a bit more in his next starts. He cut short the PGA Championship, however He withdrew after the third round and played the 150th Open at St. Andrews, but did not secure a tee time at the weekend. He is next scheduled to play in the December Universal Champion Challenge.
At times, it can be difficult to watch Woods, who is clearly in danger. However, his mini comeback has given golf many indelible tiger moments, and at his age – injuries or not – may be rare, which means we’re all grateful for the memories.