Kaufman Blog: The Best of 2013

Thu 19 Dec 2013

Kaufman Blog: The Best of 2013

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December 19: As we come to the end of 2013, it’s an apt time to look back at some of the key moments of the golf year as I saw it.
By Richard Kaufman.
Asian Tour Player of the Year
Lots of contenders but ultimately it came down to two Thai golfers, Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Thongchai was consistent but even he would say that Kiradech’s achievements surpassed his in 2013. Starting the season 191st on the world rankings, Kiradech was still a talent waiting to fulfil. And while, I still believe there is so much more he can achieve (Dom Boulet said he can become a top-10 player in the world), he showed the planet that he can perform on any stage.
Team of the Year
Not much of a choice for me. Travelling to Colorado in September, I thought there was a chance that Europe’s ladies golfers had a chance of winning on American soil for the first time. But I never thought they would win in such style. Others may disagree but I love the controversy, loved the fresh outlook of English teenager Charley Hull and was astounded by the final score-line. While on the subject of ladies golf, a special mention for Inbee Park.
Quote of the Year
“C’mon Aussie”. Some great action at this year’s majors. From a patriotic point of view, my fellow Englishman Justin Rose’s win in Merion was fantastic. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy but the same can be said of Adam Scott.
Adam is the first Australian to win the Masters Tournament and I can still remember him screaming the line above for his country when he made the putt on the 72nd hole. It was also a special playoff against former Masters champion Angel Cabrera. Such camaraderie under intense pressure and such good golf.
Redemption of the Year
Thought Prom Meesawat might win this one when he got himself back in a playoff at the Hong Kong Open. Adam Scott after his Open heartbreak in 2012 and then Masters elation could have claimed it. But I like to spread the joy! So, it’s Phil Mickelson whose search for the US Open goes on. But bounced back in sensational style at the Open at Muirfield. There’s a flamboyancy and a certain risk talking about Mickelson that some criticise but at his best, as he was in Scotland, he is one of the most talented players around.
Asian Tour Event of the Year
This is about the event that stood out most for me.
I really enjoyed the Resorts World Manila Masters and Hero Indian Open, but I think it comes down to two events won by the same man at the Chiangmai Classic and the Macau Open. And It’s Scott Hend in Thailand that stands out for me.
In Macau, he showed how he can lead from the front. But there’s nothing better than watching an exciting, aggressive golfer make a charge and close down the leader. Prayad Marksaeng was the poor man whose lead was quickly eroded. Chuck in Bryce Easton’s last round, the great weather, the calibre of the field and that this was just the inaugural Chiangmai Classic, you couldn’t have asked for more.
2014 Predictions
Kiradech Aphibarnrat to get his PGA Tour card (hardly sticking my neck on the block).
Anirban Lahiri to win the Order of Merit. His consistency over the second half of the season was impressive. And I think it’s just a matter of time before he wins outside of India. Looking forward to maiden wins for Baek Seuk-hyun and Jazz Janewattanond of Thailand as well. And with Prom Meesawat concentrating more on the Asian Tour, sure he will get back in the winner’s circle.
Events I’m most looking forward to? Both matchplay events. Got a feeling Asia might get the better of Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in March. And, obviously, I can’t wait to be at Gleneagles in Scotland in September as Europe take on the USA at the Ryder Cup.
As for the Majors, tough as always to call. Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson are contenders for their first of the big ones. But I reckon 2014 will be the year that Tiger Woods gets back on the Major trail.
Looking back on these moments, it is a real privilege to be able to commentate and feel a part of something you feel so passionate about.
Season greetings and a happy new year to everyone and I look forward to catching up again for the King’s Cup in Hua Hin.
Ends.