The 5 best feel-good stories of 2017

best feel-good stories
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There were plenty of feel-good stories on the golf course in 2017. Here are five of the best.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Saturday, December 23, 2017 | 9:30 p.m.

Every victory in golf is a meaningful one to the player involved. But there are some that are just a little more special for various reasons.

Here's a look at five of the best feel-good stories in golf in 2017:

5. Rookie Wesley Bryan wins the RBC Heritage

Note: What a few years it has been for Wesley Bryan. Once best-known as one-half of the trick-shot duo Bryan Brothers, Wesley has proven that his game is far more than cool tricks.

After earning a performance promotion to the PGA Tour thanks to a 2016 in which he won three times on the Web.com Tour, Bryan turned heads again the week after the Masters when he captured the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head's Harbour Town Golf Links.

The victory was the first of Bryan's PGA Tour career. Making it even more special was the fact that it came in his home state of South Carolina. He was also the first South Carolinian in the tournament's long history to win.

4. Bernhard Langer completes senior golf's career grand slam

Note: Bernhard Langer -- a two-time Masters champion -- has won virtually everything in senior golf. The 60-year-old ageless wonder has racked up an amazing 36 victories on the PGA Tour Champions through 2017.

Entering the 2017 season, Langer had seven senior majors overall on his resume. As the 2017 major season passed, Langer would up that tally to 10. But the most impressive of the three he collected in 2017? That would be the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship -- the only major tournament Langer had yet to win, but finished inside the top-5 on four other occasions.

Langer was clinical all week at Trump National D.C., winning by a single stroke over Vijay Singh.

It doesn't look like Langer will stop his winning ways anytime soon -- he won seven more times in 2017. But now he's one of just two players (Jack Nicklaus is the other) to own a career grand slam on the over-50 circuit.

3. Sergio Garcia wins the Masters

Note: Pretty much since finishing second to Tiger Woods at age 19 in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, Garcia has been in the conversation of "best player never to win a major."

And he had come so close so many times, that it just didn't seem fair. He had 22, top-10 finishes in the 73 major starts prior to 2017. Twelve of those were inside the top 5. But still, he had nothing to show for the efforts.

That is until the 2017 Masters. All the years of hard work and hard luck were finally rewarded at Augusta National when Garcia defeated buddy Justin Rose on the first hole of a playoff.

You could see the giant weight lifted from Garcia's shoulders as he rolled in that winning birdie putt.

Never again would Garcia be a part of the "best player to never win a major" debate.

2. Danielle Kang's emotional victory at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship

Note: Danielle Kang began her LPGA career in 2011 with a lot of promise. She had just won the U.S. Women's Amateur in back-to-back years.

But the transition to the pro game wasn't easy. On top of that, in just her second season, she lost her father -- K.S. Kang -- to a battle with brain and lung cancer. K.S. was on Danielle's bag for both of those amateur wins. It was a big blow.

Entering the 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Olympia Fields just outside of Chicago, Kang had a quiet confidence about her all week. She seemed comfortable with her game and at ease.

All that produced the best golf of her career, as Kang would go on to win not only her first LPGA event, but her first major, by one shot over a hard-charging Brooke Henderson.

Moments after the win on the 18th green, Kang shared an emotional embrace with her mother. It was obvious that her late father was the angel on her shoulder all week.

1. Stacy Lewis donates entire winner's check to hurricane relief efforts

Note: Over the last three seasons, winning hadn't come easy for Stacy Lewis. Not that winning is ever easy, but the American had made a habit of it from 2011-2014.

But since then, it was nothing but close calls.

That all changed in September at the Cambia Portland Classic.

Just before the tournament, Hurricane Harvey pounded the state of Texas.

Scenes from the aftermath of Harvey compelled Lewis to donate all of her winnings from Portland.

Maybe it was that act of kindness that also rewarded Lewis with good karma. For the first time in three years, Lewis won on the LPGA Tour and true to her word, she donated her winnings.

Inspired by Lewis's gesture, her sponsor -- KPMG -- matched Lewis's donation, bringing the total dollar amount to $390,000.

If that doesn't give you goosebumps...

 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.