COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Fred Funk (right), 48, won for the first time in six years, at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, and made the Ryder Cup team. John Daly, 38, won for the first time in nine years, at Torrey Pines. Woody Austin's W in Hartford was his first in nine years, and Joey Sindelar's victory in Charlotte was his first in 14. But the most inspiring comeback was that of 33yearold David Duval (left), who had plunged to 434th in the World Ranking after all but abandoning pro golf. Duval didn't win in his nine starts, but more important, he got an extreme makeover as a sentimental favorite when he returned to the Tour at the U.S. Open, shooting rounds of 83 and 82. Moved to tears at Shinnecock Hills, Duval said, "I've never been received this way. Not for shooting 59, not for winning the British Open."
Leaders and Laggards
These players made the biggest statistical moves up, and down.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
The Ryder Cup? Nope, the 2005 Presidents Cup will be even more one-sided. The International team will have Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Mike Weir, and enough Aussies to stoke a giant barbie. Memo to U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus: If the Internationals offer to settle for a tie again, take it!
(Nearly) Man of the Year
In 2001 Ernie Els (above) finished second in three majors. In '04 he nearly did it again. Els was second at the Masters and the British Open, contended at the U.S. Open before tanking on Sunday and missed the PGA playoff by a shot. After the Masters he revealed how he dealt with the disappointment: "After the seventh beer I felt better."