1999 Professional Golf Season Review
Tragedy Mars Record-Setting Season
The death of Payne Stewart and five others in a plane crash on Oct. 25 overshadowed all the record-breaking achievements by golf's biggest stars this year. Stewart, who captured his second U.S. Open title in June, was a favorite of fans and players. The outpouring of emotion, and the PGA's decision to halt play for his memorial will be somber reminders from 1999.
Tiger Woods had unmatched success on the PGA Tour in 1999. He won eight tournaments, the most since Johnny Miller won eight in 1974 and finished the season with victories in four consecutive starts. Ben Hogan was the last player to do that. He became the first player to win $6 million in earnings and was an easy choice for the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award.
David Duval got off to a fast start in 1999, winning four tournaments and more than $2 million before April's Masters Tournament. On Jan. 24 he became the third player in tour history to break 60. His 13-under-par 59 at the Bob Hope Desert Classic was one of the best rounds ever played.
The PGA Tour ventured into primetime television for the first time as well. Duval and Woods met in the made-for-TV Showdown at Sherwood. The exhibition was a success and the ratings suggest we'll see another match-up in 2000.
This season also featured one of golf's biggest comebacks and one of its biggest collapses. The United States' Sunday comeback at the 33rd Ryder Cup and the celebration that followed dominated sports pages headlines this fall. And France's Jean Van de Velde will be remembered for his torturous collapse at the British Open. How will we ever forget watching him squander a three-shot lead on the last hole of the tournament before losing in a playoff that never should have happened.
And the PGA Tour discovered a new star on the horizon in Spain's Sergio Garcia. The 19-year-old rookie had four top 10 finishes and came within a stroke of catching Woods at the PGA Championship.
On the LPGA Tour, Juli Inkster's victory at the LPGA Championship made her the second woman golfer (Pat Bradley) in history to win the modern career LPGA Grand Slam. She also won the U.S. Women's Opentwo weeks earlier and capped off her year with a spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame.
But Karrie Webb broke through in 1999, winning six tournaments, including the du Maurier Classic, and earning top 10 finishes in all but three of the 25 events she played in. She shattered LPGA records for scoring average (69.43) and earnings ($1,591,959) as well.
Things got off to a bizarre start on the Senior Tour when the year's first major in Scottsdale, Ariz. had to be cancelled after two rounds because of snow. Rookie Bruce Fleisher had the most success on the Senior Tour schedule. Fleisher won seven times and earned $2.5 million.