The 2009 professional golf season was filled with great moments for Nike Golf athletes. Nike Golf athletes racked up 23 victories worldwide, and the year was filled with spectacular moments from start to finish.
A great year for Nike Golf started with Paul Casey’s victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship where he squeezed out a 1-shot victory over Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen. A few months later he would get his first PGA Tour victory at the Shell Houston Open, and in May he would secure a win at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. But the early story of 2009 was, “When would the world’s #1 return to the tour?” We got our answer in February when Tiger Woods announced he would play in the WGC Accenture Match Play event in Tucson. Yours truly was there to witness his first tee shot in a 2009 tournament, check out these screen caps from the Golf Channel broadcast:
Tiger was eliminated in the second round (Paul Casey would finish second behind Geoff Ogilvy), but he would go on to win seven times in 2009. In March, Tiger Woods sealed his victory at The Arnold Palmer Invitational with a spectacular putt for the win on the 72nd hole. He followed that victory with wins at The Memorial, The AT&T National, The Buick Open, The WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the BMW Championship. Tiger was the season long points leader for the FedEx Cup, and at the culmination of the Tour Championship he was holding the FedEx Cup trophy.
Lucas Glover’s win at the U.S.Open and Stewart Cink’s Open Championship victory secured two major victories for Nike Golf, however a balky putter and a hard-charging Y.E. Yang prevented Tiger Woods from bringing home a third at the PGA Championship. But the Glover and Cink victories catapulted those two respective athletes to premier status in the world of international golf.
One of the outstanding stories of 2009 was the resurgence of David Duval, and particularly his performance at the U.S. Open. David has been working hard on his game for the past several years, and his T2 finish at Bethpage showed just how close he is to winning again. We look for more good things to come from David in 2010.
On the same day as Stewart Cink’s win at the Open Championship, Nike Golf athlete Bo Van Pelt gained his first PGA Tour win at the U.S. Bank Championship at Brown Deer Park in Milwaukee, winning in a playoff over John Mallinger. In the PGA Tour Fall Series, Nike staffer Jamie Lovemark made it into a playoff at the Frys.com open along with Rickie Fowler and Troy Matteson, with Matteson coming away with the win. Lovemark had a notable shot at the Grayhawk Raptor course’s 18th hole on Sunday, when his second shot found the greenside lake, only to promptly jump back out onto the grass bank next to the green. Stephen Ames closed out the Fall Series with a win at The Children’s Miracle Network Classic, besting fellow Nike athlete Justin Leonard and George McNeill in a 3-man playoff.
LPGA Tour veteran Suzann Petterson topped a strong field at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in early September, and strong play carried her into the final round with a 5-shot lead, which she maintained to secure the title. Michelle Wie was a standout at the Solheim Cup, played in late August at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Michelle posted key match victories that helped carry the U.S. team to victory. She followed up her strong Solheim Cup performance with a win at The Lorena Ochoa invitational in mid-November, her long anticipated first win on the LPGA Tour. In the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, Amanda Blumenhurst took medalist honors — look for her to lead the 2010 LPGA rookie class.
On the Champions Tour John Cook racked up victories in two of the last three events, at the Administaff Small Business Classic and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. We expect to see more strong performances from John in the 2010 season.
The European Tour saw Simon Dyson notch two late-season victories, the first in a three-man playoff at the KLM Open where he posted a final round 63 to get into a playoff, and subsequently sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to seal the victory in style. His second came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships were another strong final round of 66 gave him a 3-shot victory over Rory McIlroy and Oliver Wilson. In the season ending event at The Omega Mission Hills World Cup, Francesco Molinari teamed with his brother Eduardo to secure the title for Team Italy. And Nike Golf athlete Pablo Martin kicked off the 2010 European Tour season with a victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
2009 saw solid play but no victories for Nike Golf athletes on the Nationwide Tour, but look for Paul Gow, Richard Lee, Chris Nallen, Ron Whitaker and (especially in my opinion) Johnattan Vegas to challenge for tour titles in 2010. Don’t be surprised to se one or more of these athletes in the winner’s circle, as well as the Top 25 by year’s end, and graduating to the PGA Tour for the 2011 season.
The end of the 2009 season brought with it the stories Tiger Woods’ struggles off the course, and no one knows if he will play at all in the 2010 season. In the meantime we will be watching the rest of Nike Golf’s athletes who look to continue their winning ways in the 2010 seasons on all professional tours.
Of all the great highlights for Nike Golf athletes in 2009, here are my votes for the top five:
TOP FIVE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2009
1. Stewart Cink draining his putt on 18 in regulation on Sunday to get into a playoff with Tom Watson.
The story of the week was Tom Watson’s unbelievable run at a 6th Open Championship title, but when Stewart drained his 15-footer (with his Nike METHOD putter) on 18 on Sunday to post 2-under, he put himself in position to win the claret jug and become the Champion Golfer of the Year.
2. Michelle Wie coming into her own at The Solheim Cup, then getting her first career win at The Loren Ochoa Invitational.
Okay, so this is two highlights, but both were equally significant (and I say interrelated) — Michelle Wie’s first career LPGA Tour title was a long time coming, and the confidence she gained in contributing the Solheim Cup team victory made it possible.
3. David Duval’s run for the title at the U.S. Open at Bethpage.
I predicted a David Duval win in 2009 — that didn’t come true but it sure looked like it might at Bethpage Black, until his putt on 17 in the final round lipped out and ended his hopes for the title. But what a tournament for David and a great second place finish — in a major championship no less.
4. Lucas Glover closing out the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage.
Lucas’ steady play on the last three holes of the final round included a birdie on 16 (bouncing back from a bogey on 15) and solid pars on 17 and 18. Finishing strong with the U.S. Open title on the line subsequently catapulted him into the international limelight and gained him marquis player status on the PGA Tour.
5. Tiger Woods’ 8 iron to a foot on 16 on Sunday at The WGC Bridgestone Invitational to seal victory #70.
Another shot for Tiger’s highlight reel and a subsequent Padraig Harrington meltdown culminated in Tiger getting his 70th win.
Lucas Glover’s U.S. Open and Stewart Cink’s Open Championship major titles were just two of 23 victories amassed by Nike Golf athletes in 2009. Here’s the complete list of Nike Golf athlete victories in 2009:
NIKE GOLF’S 2009 VICTORIES
Nike Golf’s 2009 PGA Tour Victories
Stephen Ames – Children’s Miracle Network Classic
Tiger Woods – The BMW Championship
Tiger Woods – Bridgestone Invitational
Tiger Woods – The Buick Open
Stewart Cink – The OPEN Championship
Bo Van Pelt – U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee
Tiger Woods – AT&T National
Lucas Glover – US Open Championship
Tiger Woods – The Memorial Tournament
Paul Casey – Shell Houston Open
Tiger Woods – Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill
Nike Golf’s 2009 International Victories
Pablo Martin – Alfred Dunhill Championship (European Tour)
Francesco Molinari – Omega Mission Hills World Cup (European Tour)
Tiger Woods – JBWere Masters (Australasian Tour)
K.J. Choi – Iskandar Johor Open
Simon Dyson – Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (European Tour)
Simon Dyson – KLM Open (European Tour)
Paul Casey – BMW PGA Championship (European Tour)
Paul Casey – Abu Dhabi Golf Championship (European Tour)
Nike Golf’s 2009 Champions Tour Victories:
John Cook– Charles Schwab Cup Championship
John Cook – Administaff Small Business Classic
Nike Golf’s 2009 LPGA Tour Victories:
Michelle Wie – Lorena Ochoa Invitational
Suzann Pettersen – CN Canadian Women’s Open
If I’ve missed any here, let me know of any other 2009 moments that were notable to you in a comment below. We look forward to 2010 and more victories and great moments for Nike Golf athletes!