We saw the impossible on the PGA Tour in 2004: Tiger Woods falling to earth, a mere mortal after all. We also saw the improbable, Phil Mickelson finally winning a big one, and the unimaginable, Vijay Singh, a 41year-old from Fiji, dominating the game with nine victories and a record $10.9 million in earnings. Here's what else made the '04 season a memorable one.
This is an article from the Nov. 15, 2004 issue
Steve Allan (above) of Australia lived every Tour player's worst nightmare at the Reno-Tahoe Open. In the fairway of the 72nd hole with a sand wedge in hand and needing only a bogey for his first Tour win, Allan chunked, bladed, flopped and gassed his way to a double-bogey 6, then lost the playoff to Vaughn Taylor.
Vijay Singh (left), going head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the final pairing in September's Deutsche Bank Championship, birdied three of the last four holes to win by three. The victory vaulted Singh past Woods to No. 1 in the World Ranking, ending Woods's five-year reign.
The 176-yard six-iron holed for an eagle 2 by Craig Parry (left) to defeat Scott Verplank on the first playoff hole of the Ford Championship.
According to The Detroit News, the U.S. team consumed a six-pack of beer in the Oakland Hills locker room during the Ryder Cup. Attendants lost count of the Euros' intake. The room was "one big party, from beginning to end," the News said.
Quotes of the Year
"What's an anecdote? Isn't that something you put on pizza?"
--Chris Riley, asked for an anecdote about himself
"If they were smart, they'd realize they look really stupid."
--Jerry Kelly, on the USGA officials who set up Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open
"It doesn't suck."
--Phil Mickelson, on contending at the Masters without Woods in the mix
The top 10 money winners on Tour without a victory in 2004.
'04 FAIRWAYS HIT
'04 FAIRWAYS HIT
Greens in Regulation
'04 GREENS HIT
'04 GREENS HIT
Putts per GIR
Birdies per Round
'04 BIRDIES AVG.
Davis Love III
The Ryder Cup? Nope, the 2005 Presidents Cup will be even more one-sided. The International team will have Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Mike Weir, and enough Aussies to stoke a giant barbie. Memo to U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus: If the Internationals offer to settle for a tie again, take it!
(Nearly) Man of the Year
In 2001 Ernie Els (above) finished second in three majors. In '04 he nearly did it again. Els was second at the Masters and the British Open, contended at the U.S. Open before tanking on Sunday and missed the PGA playoff by a shot. After the Masters he revealed how he dealt with the disappointment: "After the seventh beer I felt better."
Rookie of the Year
The award could go to Todd Hamilton, since he won the Honda Classic and the British Open, but c'mon, the guy's 39 and had played in Asia for more than a decade. Or we could name Zach Johnson, who won the BellSouth Classic and played well enough all year to finish among the top 30 on the money list and get into the Tour Championship, but he's 28 and was the leading money winner a year ago on the Nationwide tour, which doesn't exactly make him wet behind the ears. The real rookie of the year is Whistling Straits, the Pebble Beach of the Midwest, which looked better than Angelina Jolie in fishnets when it debuted to rave reviews at the PGA. The sun, the wind, the fescue, Lake Michigan combined to give the PGA the look of a British Open. The USGA is already on board for the 2007 U.S. Senior Open, and the PGA of America probably will be back with a Ryder Cup.