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TEE TO GREEN, STEVE SCOTT: The 2022 T2G Bungs, featuring Cam Smith, the 150th Open, and Tiger Woods

The 150th Open was the unquestioned centrepiece of the 2022 season.
The 150th Open was the unquestioned centrepiece of the 2022 season.

With more of a legacy than LIV can probably ever aspire to, T2G’s Annual Bungs are in their 16th year.

A couple more editions, I figure, and I can start using the slugline ‘a tradition like no other’. I’m sure the Masters were using that one long before they got 20 years in.

But for a few deletions down the way, the Bung categories have remained the same for every year since 2006. 2022 was a fraught year of intrigue and infighting like we’ve never seen in golf, but I believe these Bungs stick to traditional values, without fear or favour.

Our player of the year, announced last week, is a LIVer, for example. But the best golf in 2022 was to be found in the so-called ‘established’ game.

Tournament of the Year

Rory McIlroy’s memorable walk up 18 on Sunday at The 150th Open.

On a personal level, I really enjoyed a couple of junior events – the Boys and Girls Championships at Carnoustie, and the Jacques Leglise and Espirito Santo Trophy matches at Blairgowrie. Two favourite places, with some incredible young talent on show.

The AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield and the Senior Open at Gleneagles were delight, largely shorn of the fractious nonsense going on in the game. But there’s no use resisting.

The 150th Open was maybe the best I’ve ever witnessed in 33 years attending and working at the championship.

Jack’s return, Tiger’s farewell, gorgeous weather, the Old Course firm and bouncy, massive crowds, all the attendant drama and an incredible finish. A rare example of something entirely matching, on and off the course, an almost unsustainable hype.

Round of the Year

I’m parochially inclined to Robert MacIntyre’s 64 in the final round of the Italian Open. I’ve never seen anyone have so many kick-in birdies chasing a title.

But really, Cam Smith’s final round in The Open at St Andrews is unapproachable. The back nine of 30 particularly, and especially given what had happened the day before, as we’ll detail below.

Shot of the Year

Any easy choice. Matt Fitzpatrick on the 72nd hole, in the face of one of The Country Club’s brutally restored bunkers, invoking the memory of Sandy Lyle by hitting a peach from 161 yards to safe two-putt range.

Will Zalatoris still had to miss, but you felt the US Open was won right there.

Non-event of the Year

LIV was definitely not a non-event in itself during the year. It was unquestionably a catalyst for change. It drew more column inches and airtime than just about anything. The infighting and spite that resulted dominated golf for all of 2022.

But what was a non-event was the actual golf on LIV. You struggle to think of one memorable moment of play that occurred, or exciting finale that ensued. The very thing that should count most was drowned out by the noise.

For example, take Bryson DeChambeau. He’s dominated the Bungs and the publicity around the game for two years. But since he went to LIV, he’s simply vanished.

Reassurance of the Year

18 months ago, Ewen Ferguson was the one we thought had missed. Most believed he had the talent, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen, and it seemed the Glaswegian was going to be one of those unlucky ones.

Thankfully, our eye for a winner appears intact. After some years on the Challenge Tour, Ewen finally graduated to the DP World Tour and won twice. It would have been three times but for some outrageous holing out by Oliver Wilson in Denmark. Always a confidence player, he’s flush with it now.

Trophy of the Year

Tradition has it this Bung goes to the worst or weirdest trophy of the year, and we had our winner by July this year.

The new trophy for the winner of the lucrative JP McManus’ ProAm, is a frankly scary thing in the what-were-they-thinking taste-free genre, a giant golden hand pinching a silver ball. Not sure there’s a suitable place to display in any trophy room.

Stat of the Year

The OGWR in total were the stats of 2022, even without the ongoing LIV argument.

The recalibration of the rankings in August certainly made some sense, but no statistical arrangement exist without glaring anomalies. The DP World Championship, with seven of the world’s 25 competing, ranking less than the PGA Tour event the same week with the highest ranked player sitting at 30 was a simple and obvious nonsense.

Furthermore, supporters of the new system started to simply make things up to justify the change. Such as asserting non-PGA Tour players always finished last in WGCs (they didn’t) and that a low range PGA Tour participant was simply more talented than a DP World Tour or Asian Tour winner, which doesn’t remotely pass any sight or smell test.

The rankings weren’t perfect and representative before, but neither are they now. The system needs some more tweaking.

Shank of the Year

Rarely an actual shank, pedants, but the worst or most badly-timed poor shot of the year.

Mito Pereira’s final tee shot which cost him the PGA Championship at Southern Hills is a contender, for sure. The Chilean, now in LIV, may not get a chance like that again.

But I’m going to stay positive with a redemption story. Cam Smith’s baseball-style howk out of a bunker at the 13th on Saturday at the Open was at best ill-advised, and it predictably cost him a double. His two-shot lead at halfway was a four-shot deficit after 54 holes.

Of course, he brushed it off quickly and turned it around – and how – on Sunday. Even his bad shots add to the achievement of that incredible weekend.

Comeback of the Year

We could, plausibly, give this to Tiger Woods for the fifth year in a row. But five comebacks in successive years is stretching logic even for a joke.

There were a few nice minor comebacks, like Thomas Pieters or Matt Wallace and a potential one from Francesco Molinari, although that still needs a little more work.

The only other contender, really, is Greg Norman, who has at least made himself relevant again. But to be honest I don’t feel like giving even a worthless bung to that man.

To hell with it. The first round at Augusta, a one-under 71 after all that happened to him, counts entirely by itself as the comeback of the year. Five-in-a-row for Tiger it is.