There were some outstanding performances across the world stage last year, not to mention some highlights on Greg Norman-designed courses.
The New Year is always a mixed bag of reflection and excitement as I wrap my head around another whirlwind year and peer out onto the landscape of the one ahead.
Last year was huge for Greg Norman Golf Course Design, in particular. In the heels of celebrating our 100th golf course opening, we were fortunate enough to have the honor of hosting six professional tournaments on our courses around the world.
What a thrill to see Ricardo Gouveia cap an incredible season with his victory at the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic Grand Final at our very own golf course, Almouj Golf The Wave in Muscat. He was the headline billing going into the event and didn’t disappoint, winning the Road to Oman Rankings with the highest total earnings in European Challenge Tour history.
Not to be outdone, Rory McIlroy produced a six under par 66 in his final round of the season to triumph in the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeriah Golf Estates in Dubai. His win at the Earth Course I designed catapulted him to capture The Race to Dubai and to be crowned European Tour Number One for a third time. It gives me great satisfaction to see history made on courses we have created and I look forward to seeing the tournament played in the future on the Fire course at JGE, which I also designed.
In accordance with our philosophy of pioneering emerging markets, Greg Norman Golf Course Design has embraced the Middle East with numerous projects in the region, including those mentioned above. I am proud to have been a part of bringing the Middle East to the forefront of the world of golf, evidenced by these big events played and won by big names. Congratulations to the corporate partners, volunteers, staff, and golf fans in the Middle East for making this possible.
We were also fortunate enough to have hosted the Asian Tour’s inaugural Ho Tram Open at The Bluffs in Vietnam, won by Sergio Garcia. This event added to the excitement of The Bluffs receiving the “World’s Best New Golf Course” award in November.
The OHL Classic at Mayakoba was played again at El Camaleón in Mexico with Graeme McDowell claiming victory in exciting fashion, winning in a playoff. This event and course made golf history in 2007 when it became the first US PGA Tour event to be contested outside the United States and Canada. Today, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba remains Mexico’s only PGA Tour event and it is regarded as one of the finest by professional players and spectators, alike.
Rounding out an incredible list of tournaments and courses, GNGCD’s Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Florida hosted both the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship, won by Cristie Kerr, and the US PGA Tour’s Frankin Templeton Shootout.
I was proud to host the Franklin Templeton Shootout for the 27th year in 2015. This one-of-a-kind competition features 24 of the world’s top pros playing in two-man teams in a mixed-format of modified alternate shot, better ball, and scramble. This year, the team of Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner came out on top. This event is particularly special to me as it has raised more than $12 million for a variety of worthy charities, most notably CureSearch for Children’s Cancer.
So, 2015 was, by all accounts, a remarkable year not only for GNGCD, but it was also a truly transforming year in golf that set us up for what is sure to be a noteworthy 2016.
What to expect in 2016
With such a strong crop of top-tier players, I’m certain that this will be an exciting year. However, I do not anticipate a lot of change in the Top 10 with the No. 1 torch passed back-and-forth between the existing “Big Three” of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, which will make for some wonderful viewing. As for the other great players, I would like to see:
Dustin Johnson break through with a stellar year. He has the firepower and no question the skills, but he just needs to refine his thought process. Hopefully, the “baptism by fire” of 2015 will be a huge learning curve for him.
Henrik Stenson needs to elevate his putting, getting it in the same bracket as his ball striking skills. Once he does this, his breakthrough in the Majors will happen.
Rickie Fowler has shown that he loves the Majors and being in the moment and has no fear or lack of wanting-to-be-there.
My dark horse is Anirban Lahiri. He has shown incredible consistency on the global stage and just needs to come the United States and replicate that consistency. He has the skills and the game to get into the top 10.
Emiliano Grillo & Smylie Kaufman
The rookies, Emiliano Grillo and Smylie Kaufman have alerted those ahead of them that they were ready to challenge the status quo at the top. Watch these two early in 2016.
In January, we will start to see how it all unfolds. I look forward to bringing another thrilling U.S. Open to your living room as FOX Sports enters its second year broadcasting this Major event. See you all at Oakmont!
The article "Greg Norman: A Year To Remember" was originally published on http://www.shark.com/sharkwatch/news/worldwide-golf-january-2016/