Kaufman Blog: What a great 2014 season

Tue 23 Dec 2014

Kaufman Blog: What a great 2014 season

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December 23: Asian Tour lead TV commentator Richard Kaufman looks back on his favourite 2014 moments following yet another magical season on the region’s premier Tour which concluded over the weekend.
Putt of the Year
With a weather delay and Cameron Smith and Baek Seuk Hyun charging at him, Anirban Lahiri’s hopes of a first win outside of India suddenly looked in doubt at the Indonesian Masters. Baek had already set the clubhouse target and young buck Smith had gone on a back nine rampage. For those of us who have watched a lot of Lahiri over the last few years, we knew it would be a case of when not if he would claim an Asian Tour title outside of Delhi Golf Club. But on that 18th green at Royale Jakarta, one swish of the putter from 20 feet and an eagle putt holed meant it was here and now. The reaction from the Indian said it all.
Commentary of the Year
I must say I came a close second by managing to keep talking from the floor after my chair collapsed on me during round three of the Indonesia Open. But the winner is Dom Boulet for his efforts at the Thailand Golf Championship. Admittedly, our producer Alastair Berry was often referring to Bernd Wiesberger by an alternative name throughout the day. But with dinner still a few hours away, as the Austrian golfer stood over his ball on the fairways of Amata Spring Country Club, Dom informed us… “Now, this is Burnt Cheese Burger”…..
I like mine well done too!
Shot of the Year
It seems unfair but just a runner award for Angelo Que. His approach shot on the 72nd hole at the Hong Kong Open was astonishing. But ultimately, it didn’t lead to a win, pipped in the play off by Scott Hend. So… off to Laguna National for the Championship in Singapore for what was a thrilling final round. Traling Anders Hansen and David Lipsky by a shot – Felip Aguilar came to the 18th. The Chilean told his caddie – if I can make birdie on 18 we can put some pressure on the leaders. His caddie replied “what about making a two”. A pitching wedge of perfection for an eagle two to win the title!
Quote of the Year
It’s amazing how golf has a habit of tripping you up when you don’t expect it or magically findin  a sprinkling of stardust when you are in a rut. From the European Tour this season, there was no more popular winner than Oliver Wilson at the Alfred Dunhill Links.  Now Mardan Mamat hadn’t suffered to the scale of Wilson over the last few years but watching the veteran Singapore player swing the club in Manila in November, you would never have guessed this was a player who had been struggling all season just to play weekend golf. Head and shoulders above the rest – Mardan cruised home to a six shot win. Only after the win had been completed, did Mamat let his emotions out and reveal with tears in his eyes “Three weeks ago, I was thinking about quitting but I’ve won now”.
Player of the Year
Yes it was another brilliant 12 months for Thaworn Wirachant.  Thongchai Jaidee said 2014 was the best of his career and it was a great Order of Merit race in Asia with Lipsky and Lahiri battling it out at the top. But look down the tournament schedule on the Asian Tour website and scroll down to July and August. At Hoylake, at Firestone and Valhalla… some young Irish kid dominated the headlines. I still believe Tiger Woods will win another major. But 2014 will go down as a changing of the guard for me led by Rory McIlroy. With Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth among a young brigade that should be featuring on leaderboards for 20 years to come… this felt like a poignant few weeks in the game.
Comeback of the Year
It was wonderful to be at Gleneagles in September, striding the fairways and commentating on another European win over America at the Ryder Cup. But let’s not forget that five of Paul McGinley’s side had travelled to Malaysia six months earlier for the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM. Thongchai Jaidee’s men were 5-0 down after the 1st day fourball and like most observers, I feared the worst. That a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best of Asian golf would only end in humiliation and a told you so! The deficit had been reduced to four points before the Sunday singles and who would have predicted that Asia would come so close to winning outright. I know it’s wrong to pick out individuals in such a brilliant team effort. But Prayad Marksaeng 4 down to Jamie Donaldson before the turn but getting  a half, Anirban Lahiri – 7 under par in his round to see of Victor Dubuisson and Siddikur Rahman’s last man display against Stephen Gallacher stick out for me. 10-10 the final scoreline, a superb way to start a brand new event. I also think that that comeback gave the Asian Tour players the self-belief that they can compete with the best. Just look at some of results in the second half of the season, Interestingly, the two co-sanctioned events with the European Tour were won by Asian Tour members, with David Lipsky winning in Switzerland and Scott Hend victorious in Hong Kong, coupled with both Angelo Que and Prom Meesawat finishing in the top 10 at the CIMB Classic.
It’s been an excellent season. Wishing you all a happy New Year and a successful 2015.