1. Lydia Ko. The teen dream started the final round of the Canadian Women’s Open with the lead…and then birdied five of the first eight holes to crush the competition. Macho. And it’s been such a great year for the LPGA that Inbee is barely the biggest story, thanks to Ko’s continued brilliance and Stacy Lewis’s emergence. That’s a pretty stellar cross-cultural, multi-generational Big Three.
2. Tiger. Back spasms sent him to his knees but he rose again, nearly to a mythic victory. Whatever flaws he may have in technique and character, say this about Woods — he always plays his heart out.
3. Stuart Appleby. The FedEx Cup standings are more fun to follow at the bottom of the points list, and Stuey made this year’s biggest rally, moving from 123rd to 96th to punch his ticket to Boston. He’s living Jim Valvano’s old adage per the NCAA tournament: Survive and advance.
4. Player of the Year. Do you like Tiger’s sustained excellence, Phil’s epic highlights or Adam Scott’s breakthrough augmented by a strong finishing kick? It’s fun that to say that with three tourneys left we have no idea whom deserves POY.
5. Liberty National. No, the layout is not on par with Bethpage, or Plainfield, or Ridgewood, or Westchester, or Winged Foot, or plenty of other tracks in the tri-state area. But no course looks better on TV and hosting the, er, playoffs in the shadow of Gotham makes the whole thing feel big-time. Not bad for a former landfill.
1. Matt Kuchar. Owner of golf’s goofiest perma-grin, the Kooch was nonetheless earning the rep of a solid closer, at least until his stunning Sunday meltdown at the Barclays. Tied for the lead through 54 holes, he played the 9th through 17th holes in seven over par to fall into the abyss.
2. Orange. One jabroni dressed head to toe in this garish color is enough. When two do it in the same pairing my eyeballs start to bleed.
3. Kevin Chappell. How to cock up what coulda been your first career win: go double-par-bogey-par-bogey-bogey-double on the back nine on Sunday. Kids: take note, this is what happens when you wear a flat-bill cap.
4. Suzann Pettersen. The LPGA’s biggest head-case was in the mix on Sunday until a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey stretch in the middle of the back nine. If you could put Annika’s brain on Pettersen’s body this creature would win 15 times a year.
5. Justin Rose. It’s tough to pick on a guy who makes only one bogey on Sunday…unless that bogey comes on the 72nd hole, and he finishes one shot out of a playoff. Take a bow, J-Ro.