In the rearview mirror, 1999 looks like the best year ever in golf. It was so good, David Duval shot a 59 and rang up four victories before Augusta, yet eight months later is thought of as the best footnote never to have won a major.
Who could top the drama at the majors? Greg Norman, like the B-movie zombie who wouldn't stay dead, returned from shoulder surgery to not quite win another Masters. (Give this man a career-achievement green jacket, please.) At the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Phil Mickelson was foiled while bidding to win his first major but succeeded in making his deadline—barely—to witness the birth of his first child. Everyone was driven crazy by nasty Carnoustie, although Jean Van de Velde waited until the 72nd hole to lose his head. Finally, at the PGA at Medinah, we saw the future, and isn't it grand?
What a roller-coaster ride 1999 was, from the high brought on by a transcendent Ryder Cup to the low that followed the tragic death of U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart 29 days later. Tiger Woods had 10 victories, including two of the three inaugural World tour events and that PGA, and ended the year with a four-tournament winning streak. Juli Inkster, the mother of two, won a couple of majors to complete a career Grand Slam and enter the LPGA Hall of Fame, but she was edged out as player of the year by Karrie Webb, a six-time winner. Colin Montgomerie locked up a seventh straight money title in Europe, and an unknown named Bruce Fleisher finally had us saying, Hale who?
Were you paying attention during the greatest year in golf history? Find out by taking our five-part Absolutely, Positively Final Quiz of the Millennium.
Who Am I?
A. I opened with a 71 in the British Open, but shot an 86 on Friday to become the only first-round leader in the history of the event to miss the cut.
B. I skipped a major championship last January saying that I needed a break, but wasn't so tired that I couldn't use that time to play in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
C. I've been in and out of rehab a couple of times, and shell out $35,000 a month in alimony, child support and mortgage payments, yet I walked away from a $3 million endorsement deal so I could drink and gamble.
D. I was an assistant pro at Hilltop Golf Club in Alexandria, Va., until the Dallas Cowboys talked me out of retirement last month.
E. I was the only player with a chance to win the Grand Slam when I punched out a wall in my hotel room at the U.S. Open, breaking a bone in my hand.