From fond farewells and emotional interviews to new initiatives and golfing firsts. Here are our 25 standout moments from the 2019 Race to Dubai.
Shane Lowry wins The Open
The last man standing at the 148th Open Championship, it was a dream come true for Irishman Shane Lowry to win the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush. He battled the elements to win by six shots and become a Major champion, sending an entire nation into jubilation.
He became only the fifth Irishman in history to win The Open and duly celebrated all the way back to his hometown of Offaly, where he was a given a true hero’s welcome.
An unforgettable week in Northern Ireland.
Tiger’s Masters triumph
After 11 years of physical struggles and doubt Tiger Woods won his first Major since 2008. Number 15.
It was the moment golf fans all over the world were waiting for and after telling Jack Nicklaus “I’m done” at the Champions Dinner ahead of the 2017 Masters, it was the moment they thought they’d never get.
You could argue Woods’ comeback at Augusta National in 2019 is one of the most remarkable redemption stories in sport. Following four back operations most thought he would never near Jack Nicklaus’ haul of 18 Major titles, but even with a bogey on the last Tiger finished one shot clear of the chasing pack.
What happened next was a huge outpour of emotion – a roar to the crowds, a hug with his son and the realisation he wasn’t done yet.
The introduction of the EDGA
This year we witnessed the world’s best disabled golfers take centre stage on the European Tour, both at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and at the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Ten golfers made up the field at Renaissance Club and eight played over the two days at Jumeriah Golf Estates.
World Number Three Brendan Lawlor made history in Scotland, with rounds of 77 and 71 to win the inaugural EDGA Scottish Open, while Englishman George Groves triumphed by three shots at the EDGA Dubai Finale.
Miguel makes it to 700 club
The 148th Open Championship wasn’t only special for Lowry, but when Miguel Àngel Jimenez teed off at 11:36am on Thursday morning he became only the second man to reach 700 starts on the European Tour, after Sam Torrance.
It has been a sensational career for the Spaniard, a 21 time winner on the European Tour, who also holds the record for being the oldest winner in Tour history – aged 50 years and 133 days at the 2014 Open de Espana. The 55-year-old also holds the record for the most holes-in-one on Tour, with ten to his name.
Always the entertainer, keeping dancing Miguel.
Rahm crowned Rolex Series king
The swashbuckling Spaniard became the first player to claim four Rolex Series titles at the DP World Tour Championship and was crowned European Number One.
His procession started at the spectacular Lahinch Golf Club where he triumphed in Ireland for the second time in three years, continued in Madrid after a 63-66 weekend to win the Open de España by five shots, before his coronation came with victory in Dubai and $5.5million in his pocket.
Ending the year as World Number Three, Rahm became just the second Spaniard to be crowned Europe’s Number One after his hero, the great Seve Ballesteros.
Tommy the host and champion
It says a lot about Tommy Fleetwood that, at the age of just 28, he hosted the Beftred British Masters at his home course Hillside Golf Club, in Southport. From getting hands on with the greenkeepers repairing to divots to making new friends, Fleetwood’s week is best summed by little Harry, whose favourite golfer was the host.
“Good shot Tommy Fleetwood.”
Donald’s moves in the beer tent in Denmark
The Made in Denmark tournament has always embraced innovation and 2019 lived up to its name.
As players walked from the 13th green to the 14th tee, they were given the full fan experience and treated to a walk through the Heineken Lounge, where they were met by loud music and excitable Danish fans.
Clearly demonstrated by Jamie Donaldson and his favourite Michael Jackson song…
First ever mixed gender group on the European Tour
History was made at the ISPS Handa Vic Open earlier this year when Manon De Roey, Gavin Moynihan and Dale Williamson made the first ever mixed group on the European Tour.
A total of 76 female and 80 male golfers went through to the weekend, which left exactly 52 groups, presenting the ideal opportunity for organisers to create a little piece of history.
Equal pay, equal event and history made.
Bjerregaard takes down Tiger in Texas
Trailing by one hole with three to play against Woods, on your WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play debut, might seem like quite a daunting prospect.
But not for Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard.
A magnificent birdie on 16 saw him level the match at all square, before the 17th was halved after birdie twos. A par at the last clinched the final hole, ending in defeat for Woods and a spot in the semi-finals for the 50th seed.
Brown’s breakthrough triumph
It was a disappointing start which turned into a fairy tale season for Steven Brown, who claimed his maiden European Tour win at the Portugal Masters.
This came on his 69th European Tour start, after a bogey-free weekend, for his first worldwide win in eight years of professional golf.
Making his week even more impressive were the circumstances surrounding his victory – coming into the week ranked 150th in the Race to Dubai he needed a top three finish to secure his playing rights for 2020.
Close your eyes and try to think of the most relatable moment of the season… Need a reminder? Two words: Tyrrell Hatton.
“Oh it’s… lovely flight. Just a shame it’s 25 yards left!”
The Englishman has graced fairways and our social media feeds with his own bizarre, funny wit and no one is safe from his humour, not even his fiancé…
Never change, Tyrrell.
Colsaerts’ back in the winner’s circle
It took Nicolas Colsaerts 2,709 days to become a European Tour champion again.
Entering the week at Le Golf National the 36-year-old was in a fight to keep his Tour card, but he battled hard for a one-shot win to end a victory drought of seven years and five months, in his 389th European Tour appearance.
“It’s very, very special. The French Open for me is very special because I’m French-speaking”.
The wait was worth it.
Robert MacIntyre crowned Rookie of the Year
It’s safe to say this season’s rookie race went right to the wire.
Robert MacIntyre and Kurt Kitayama were the main contenders, with only 104 points separating the two entering the final round of the season in Dubai.
In the end, it was the young Scot who sealed the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, with MacIntyre becoming the first Scottish player to win the accolade since Marc Warren in 2006.
The accolade came after a winless but sublime season which included three runner-up finishes and even top tens, along with an extraordinary tied sixth on his Major debut at The Open in Portrush.
First ever hole-in-one Top Tracer from a plane
A hole-in-one, filmed from a plane, on Carnoustie Links, with a Top Tracer. No this isn’t the future, it’s another ace from Lee Westwood like you’ve never seen before.
Coming into the week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Lee Westwood had only made two holes-in-one in 547 events on the European Tour, now he has three and one unique viewing experience.
The Englishman made the 26th ace of the season with a six iron from 189 yards… one for the history books.
Justin Timberlake’s greatest hit on the Links
What can’t JT do well? He’s a ten time Grammy award winning musician, a Hollywood actor, and a single handicap golfer too.
Playing alongside Justin Rose in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Timberlake proved he can call on shots that even the world’s best players are envious of…
Danny Willett’s son becoming his biggest fan
When Willett left Wentworth Golf Club in May 2018 he was ranked 462nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. Fast forward a year and he’s back inside the top 40.
Following his second Rolex Series win in ten months at the BMW PGA Championship, we went behind the scenes and captured this moment of Danny with his number one fan. His son, Zachariah.
José María Olazábal bids farewell to Wentworth
After one win, 28 appearances and 103 rounds José María Olazábal said an emotional goodbye to the BMW PGA Championship.
The 53-year-old Spaniard won the tournament in 1994 and 25 years on, this September, made his last competitive start at Wentworth Golf Club.
Marking the occasion, he played both final rounds with good friend Miguel Àngel Jimenez and his fellow countrymen Rahm, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Jorge Campillo, Alvaro Quiros, Adrian Otaegui and Nacho Elvira stayed after their rounds to give the Spanish legend a guard of honour.
Thanks for the memories Ollie.
When a 100-year-old took part in Beat The Pro
A very special person took part in the celebrations of the centenary year of the KLM Open this season.
Susan Hosung, who is 100 years young.
A Hilversum native who first picked up a golf club 30 years ago – at the tender age of 70 – took on Matt Wallace, Patrick Reed and Thomas Pieters in a Beat The Pro challenge in the Netherlands.
Even though her tee shot found the rough, she left with a huge new group of fans.
Tyrrell Hatton’s win under the Turkish lights
A six man playoff, under floodlights, were the two obstacles Tyrrell Hatton had to overcome to win his second Rolex Series title.
The Englishman entered the final round of the Turkish Airlines Open basking in sunshine, three shots adrift off the lead, but ended it as the last man standing under the cover of darkness.
It was one of the most dramatic days of the 2019 Race to Dubai, which saw Hatton chip in for birdie on the second play-off hole and then go on to triumph on the fourth extra hole.
Andrew Johnston opens up
It’s been a tough 18 months for Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston as he’s battled a number of issues on and off the course.
The 30-year-old opened up in a Player Blog at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open earlier this year, revealing how he’d once left a golf course in floods of tears after breaking down.
However, his smile returned at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open with a career-low round of 62, on the final day at Renaissance Club, which bagged him fourth place and a spot in The Open.
His out-pouring of emotion resonated in the golfing world with countless peers and fans.
Raw emotion and honesty, that’s why we love Beef.
Andy Sullivan caught the ace
One day. 500 balls. The aim to a make a hole-in-one.
Both Edoardo Molinari and Brandon Stone had previously failed to do in so in our latest ‘Chase the Ace’ series but could Englishman Andy Sullivan make history at London Golf Club?
A 171-yard par three in front of him, he armed himself with a seven iron. Watch what happens next.
Bezuidenhout reveals childhood scare
Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s life story is hard to believe.
Back in March, he revealed in a Player Blog how his professional golf career nearly never happened. When he was just two-years-old, playing in the street, he drank rat poison disguised in a Coke bottle in a freak accident.
“It was a moment that would change my life forever.”
His life was saved, but to this day Bezuidenhout is left with long-term health issues from the near-death experience, including a speech stutter which led to a “severe case of anxiety”.
Despite all of this, his 2019 season on the European Tour saw him overcome everything with his breakthrough win at Valderrama in the Estrella Damn N.A. Andalucia Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation. A moment he had dreamed of forever had finally come.