Why Henrik Stenson and the Open made my golfing year: Sam Torrance's 2016 review

 
Sam Torrance
Follow Sam
145th Open Championship - Day Four
Stenson won the Open after a classic two-way fight with Phil Mickelson (Source: Getty)

Player of the year

At 40, Henrik Stenson had almost reached that stage of being the best player around without a Major when the Swede went and banished that tag by winning the Open at Royal Troon in such style.

Rory McIlroy deserves a mention for his PGA Tour Championship-FedEx Cup double, but Stenson, who went on to win his second Race To Dubai crown too, gets my vote, not least because the way he achieved it in that final-day duel with Phil Mickelson was magnificent.

Read more: Why Stenson's 2016 Race To Dubai win was better than 2013

Event of the year

145th Open Championship - Day Four
Mickelson pushed Stenson all the way at Royal Troon (Source: Getty)

For reasons mentioned above, it has to be the Open. When Jack Nicklaus himself says that it was better than the Duel in the Sun – his 1977 battle with Tom Watson at Turnberry – you know that the tournament is right up there with the best ever.

Everything about it was superlative, from the golf produced by Stenson and Mickelson itself to the excitement levels in that extraordinary finish.

A word too for Justin Rose’s victory in Rio, which gave golf the perfect reintroduction to the Olympics.

Breakthrough of the year

U.S. Open - Final Round
Johnson won his maiden Major at the US Open (Source: Getty)

This goes to Dustin Johnson for winning his first Major at the US Open – and in such convincing fashion, with a magnificent approach to set up a birdie at the last, despite a rules controversy and previous disappointments at decisive moments.

I also have to mention Danny Willett for winning the Masters, ending the wait for another European in the Green Jacket.

Read more: Remember Masters as Willett winning not Spieth losing

Lee Westwood was a bit unlucky to end up in a tie for second at Augusta, but Willett’s chip at 17 was very close to being the best shot of the year.

Overlooked success of the year

DP World Tour Championship - Day Four
Fitzpatrick's win in Dubai was the biggest yet of his burgeoning career (Source: Getty)

I know how disappointing the Ryder Cup was for him, so I was delighted to see Matt Fitzpatrick show his absolute class down the stretch as he pipped another exciting English prospect, Tyrrell Hatton, at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last month.

It was the young Yorkshireman’s biggest win yet and a second European Tour success of a very promising season.

Looking ahead

DP World Tour Championship - Day Three
McIlroy looks primed for a strong 2017 season (Source: Getty)

I’m expecting a very big year for Rory in 2017, based on what I saw of him at the Ryder Cup and the end of the season in Dubai.

I was hugely impressed and he seems incredibly happy now, helped by the fact that he has total freedom to use whichever clubs he wishes.

At 27, he could be just about to come into his prime and I definitely fancy his chances of completing a career grand slam at the Masters.

Read more: Tiger's comeback was all he – and we – could've hoped for

I love watching Stenson so I’m looking forward to seeing more of him, as well as how Jordan Spieth and of course Tiger Woods bounce back in 2017.

Until then, merry Christmas and happy new year to all our readers.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles