It's that time of the season where publications reflect on the best work of the year, and today, we're looking at the 10 most popular stories on PGA.com and its websites in 2014.
It's a varied group of stories, from the buzzy, fun pieces you might expect (see: Keegan disses Phil at No. 10) to more traditional news such as Tom Watson's Open Letter to an inside look at the infamous "Tin Cup" hole.
So without further ado, let's look at the top 10, with some editor's insight to why we think they did as well as they did.
Is there anything worse than getting shut out on a high-five, a handshake or a hug, asked T.J. Auclair? We captured this awkward moment off TV when Phil Mickelson was trying to get some love from teammate Keegan Bradley after the pair took down Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy, 1-up on Friday morning in the opening fourballs matches at the 40th Ryder Cup. Take a look below. It's fast, but funny.
So there is this company called "Google." You may have heard of it. At any rate, Google and its fellow search-based sites are the key reason this story was as popular as it was. Fans of the sport wanted to see the new wraparound PGA Tour schedule as well as just basic weekly events, so over time, this was one of our most read pages.
Over the course of the year, whether in stories or on social media, it's clear that Bubba Watson has a huge following. It's evident at the tournaments, and to geeks who look at site readership (like me). Watson addressed the media at The Barclays and gave an honest assessment of criticism he received at the 2014 PGA Championship, where he seemed to stubbornly battle almost everyone over a fan-friendly, charity driven Long Drive Competition. He also said his attitude on the course wasn't acceptable. The honest insight in this public forum was very compelling, coming from one of the world's most popular athletes.
One small part of Watson's media hit at the PGA Championship was a moment when he had his caddie Ted Scott tee up his ball in a rainstorm, and it plays on the running media narrative that Scott sometimes has a difficult task on the bag of the emotional player. Scott's tweet thanking Watson after their second Masters victory together was another reader favorite.
It was Louis Oosthuizen's surprising win in the previosly mentioned PGA Long Drive Competition that made the big board with our readers. He beat a field with Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and many others well ahead of him in typical driving stats on Tour. It was interesting. Oosthuizen didn't even come to the par-5 10th at Valhalla to hit until the late afternoon, so many of the fans who had watched Adam Scott, McIlroy, Jason Day, and other favorites, weren't there to see the winning 340-yard drive.
This was both a reader favorite and an editor favorite. Around Oscars last year, we wondered if the notorious and fictional hole from the U.S. Open in the cult favorite "Tin Cup" was played by locals and fans of the movie. It's the signature hole and scene where Kevin Costner's character makes a 12 by stubbornly continuing to not lay up. Staff writer T.J. Auclair talked to PGA Professionals at the Texas course (the movie had the course in N.C.). Among the many details: the par-5 18th is really a par-4 fourth hole. “If you didn't know the fourth hole was the hole used in the movie, you wouldn't recognize it,” said Dave Altemus, President of the Southern Texas PGA Section and the General Manager of Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston. “The movie was so iconic. It’s one of best golf movies ever made. Everybody who’s a golfer has seen ‘Tin Cup.’ ”
Another thing we've learned. People like train wrecks. And this story featured a video that was a train wreck of a hole at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. See video below, and you'll understand why this was so popular. One nice note about this story: It was great to see the humility in Richard Lee's Twitter post after the putts (Well my 7 year old daughter says. "Dad I think I would have done better on 17!" " I can at least move the ball" #smh #sheisright). The video on YouTube has nearly 1 Million views (as of December 2014).
This is an unexpected top story, likely drawing interest in Europe and from a broader group of non-golfers. New to FootGolf? It's essentially basic golf rules but kicking a soccer ball around the course, and it's one of many "grow the game" intiatives the PGA of America is spitballing.
Tom Watson's open and public letter in response to post Ryder Cup criticism addressed the firestorm first sparked by controversial media room comments following the defeat. Said Watson: "I completely understand his reaction in the moment. Earlier this week I had an open and candid conversation with him and it ended with a better understanding of each other's perspectives. Phil's heart and intentions for our Team's success have always been in the right place. Phil is a great player, has great passion and I admire what he's done for golf."
This story and video was far and away No. 1 on the site this year. We'll let you take a look. It's just weird enough and we can consider this one of the best 3-feet putts in 2014.