Ryan Moore: The Way-Cool Ferret
The Academy (me and my pooch Ziggy) loves a free spirit, and out on Tour, where there's a dearth of them, there's no one like Ryan. He played the entire year without a single logo either on his bag or his clothing. If he represented Breathe-Right Nose Strips, he'd wear the see-through kind. Ryan went so far as to have his own golf shoes made, kind of like a soft-spike skateboarder. At times he looked like he'd put glue on his body and run through a thrift store, but the result was a win in Greensboro while looking like an escaped North Korean border guard. I liked it, and I like him.
2 of 17Evan Schiller
Liberty National Golf Club: The Best Use of a Landfill Since Paulie Gualtieri Ferret
Within methane-rasping distance of the famous statue that bears the same name, Liberty National is a 7,400-yard Kite-B-Cupp design squeezed into 108 acres of what was a New Jersey landfill, and is both a design and an engineering marvel. Many players had less than kind things to say about it, but only because it asked them questions they couldn't answer. Normally when a fairway is 18 yards wide, they get to hit a futility club from the tee, but when it's a 508-yard par 5, driver is the only option. A couple of greens need leveling out, but other than that, Liberty National is startlingly beautiful, and with the methane thing, if anyone hears an on-air fart, we can always blame the nearest water hazard. Which is a pfffffft-erfect segue to...
3 of 17Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Kelly Tilghman: The Announcer Ferret
The most underrated announcer in golf, Kelly does a better job than pretty much any man other than McCord, who is in fact, a woman. She works harder, prepares better, and is a damn sight better-looking than any other announcer in golf. Kelly is a tireless supporter of my Troops First Foundation, and her warmth and kindness have lift ed the spirits of countless wounded soldiers. Despite the negative press about her, I have yet to meet anyone who can tell me why they don't like her. Apparently they just don't, and I'm supposed to be okay with that, which I'm not. At all.
4 of 17Robert Beck/SI
John Daly: The Incredible Shrinking Ferret
By eating nothing but Marlboro Lights, and wearing pants that scared the crap out of his cellulite to the extent that it ran down his legs and formed insoles in his Foot-Joys, Lil' John lost 600 pounds in the last calendar year. Yes, Johnny be gellin'. (During the commercial break, J.D. also bagged The Why the Hubble Telescope Points Away From Earth Ferret.)
5 of 17Hunter Martin/Getty Images
David Feherty: The Incredible Expanding Ferret
Yes, me, folks. I started the year a svelte 185 pounds, and despite riding more than 200 miles a week on my bicycle, as I sit writing I am now compressing my stool at a staggering 217 pounds of something less than rock-hard manhood. She Who Must Be Obeyed says I am like a jackass from the waist down and the neck up, with Rosie O'Donnell's middle bits. That woman is a hoot. She Who Must Be Obeyed, that is.
6 of 17Chris Condon/PGA TOUR (right), Leigh Germy
Webb Simpson: The Player Most Likely to Marry Outside His Own Species Ferret
Simpson, the rookie from Raleigh who went to Wake Forest, and whose girlfriend, Dowd Keith, is so beautiful and nice she cannot possibly be from this planet.
7 of 17Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Brian Gay: The Gay Ferret
Who's the only player so good that when he's on he might be unbeatable, even by you-know-who, and so deserves an eponymous Ferret? That's right, Brian Gay. He is the best player hardly ever mentioned when people are talking about great players, and he has the ability to block out the world and play his own technically superb game and win by shocking margins. Also, his wife, Kimberly (who, if you think about it, is his Gay lover), is a doll.
8 of 17John Biever/SI
Sergio Garcia: The Concrete Monkey Ferret
Best player without a major victory? It's still Sergio. He also wins the Unluckiest Ferret again this year, and the Untimely Honesty Ferret, and the Let Someone Else Say That Ferret. Despite this, I believe in him. I think he has the heart and the talent, and he will win more than one. I thought the same about Phil. Look it up if you like.
9 of 17Reuters/Shaun Best
Angel Cabrera: The Best Player to Have Won Only Two Majors Ferret
Yes, I know Angel Cabrera looks like he should be carrying a huge club and dragging a woman out of a cave by her hair, but believe me, the big Argentinian is a player and a gentleman. You should start believing in him he'll be around for a while.
10 of 17Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The Mickelsons: The Family Ferret
The Mickelsons win this one at a canter. With his mother Mary and wife Amy both stricken by cancer, Phil played the Tour this year with an unbelievable burden, largely because the two most important women in his life would have kicked his ass out the door if he hadn't. Hopefully no reader can imagine what the Mickelson family is going through right now, but with this column I send them all the love in the world, and thank them for the strength they have shown, which has been an inspiration to so many.
11 of 17Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Y.E. Yang: Shot of the Year Ferret
The Academy could not reach consensus here, so we have a tie between Y. E. Yang's second to the last hole of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, and one of Tiger's. That's how weird it's become he of the gilded gonads hits so many shots that are in a different category from everyone else's that by the end of a season it's all a blur, kind of like the '90s were for me. (I know I played in a Ryder Cup, but only because of the pictures, and I'd be doubtful even about that if it hadn't happened before Photoshop.)
12 of 17Darren Carroll/SI
Michelle Wie: The Future Ferret
Michelle bagged her first LPGA title in November, but the key to her season was the Solheim Cup, where Wie proved how tough she can be when she's allowed to just hang out with the girls and have fun. If she can keep the good times rolling in 2010, she'll be a force.
13 of 17Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images
The Tata: The Best Prospective Sponsor Ferret
Now that Buick has driven off into the sunset, it's time for an injection of new vehicular fuel. The Indians have already taken over our electronic-device-support industry, and their most popular car, called the Tata, costs about four grand. That means they could afford to offer one Tata for every eagle made on Tour, and a nice big pair of Tatas for every hole in one. I mean who wouldn't want to get their hands on a pair of those? This is marketing genius!
14 of 17Robert Beck/SI
Tom Watson: The Olden Ferret
Oddly enough, this is a new category. Tom hit magnificent second shots into the last two greens at the Open Championship at Turnberry, each of which probably took five significant bounces. If any one of those bounces had landed on a tiny upslope rather than on the flat or a downslope, Tom would have achieved arguably the greatest feat in the history of the game, winning his sixth claret jug at the age of nearly 60. He was programmed for 72 holes you could see it in his exhausted face as he started the playoff. So Watson didn't win, but he won our hearts one more time, and reminded us of so many of golf's greatest moments for which he is solely responsible.
15 of 17Steven Senne/AP
Barack Obama: Player of the Year Ferret
Yes, our 44th president, who in an unbelievable coincidence also wins the Heisman Trophy. And the Vardon. Tiger Woods is pissed.
16 of 17Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Greg Rita: The Bagman Ferret
...who won back-to-back U.S. Opens with Curtis Strange, an Open Championship with John Daly, and has packed the sack for many more great players over the last three decades. "Boats, 9D," as he is affectionately known, has been battling brain cancer for the last two years, and is sorely missed by all. Boats, it's not the same without you. And we don't care if part of your brain is missing. (In fact, to be a caddie it's almost a prerequisite.) So get your ass back out here. We miss you. We love you.
17 of 17Scott Halleran/Getty Images
PFC Brendan Marrocco: The Golden Ferret
There were a number of worthy candidates for this, the greatest honor in golf, but because he appeared on a golf course on a golf telecast, this non-golfer rolls away with it. Brendan was the quad amputee who scooted down the last fairway at Tiger's AT&T at Congressional, and in doing so inspired what might have been the biggest show of support and emotion that has ever been seen on a golf course. Brendan lost all four limbs and an eye in a roadside bomb on Easter Sunday in Tikrit, and since that time he has risen from what should have been the dead to become an inspiration to anyone who has heard his story. To meet Brendan, and be able to call the cheeky little turd my friend, has been my greatest honor this year. He says one day he will play in my IED of Golf (Improvised Explosive Day). That's a tough ticket, but I'll see if I can find a spot for him.
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