As 2023 comes to a close, we look back at 18 best moments on the PGA TOUR which include memorable wins by many of the game’s biggest names, the emergence of international stars and emotional triumphs that will long be remembered.
By Helen Ross
- Nick Taylor wins the RBC Canadian Open. Let’s be real. There are no other contenders for No. 1. After all, it had been 69 years since a Canadian had won his national open. Not to mention, the victory came courtesy of a 72-foot eagle putt — the longest of Taylor’s career – on the fourth hole of a playoff with Tommy Fleetwood. Oh, and let’s not forget that one of his best friends, Adam Hadwin, was waiting greenside, a bottle of champagne in hand, with a who’s who of Canadian golf. And in the bedlam that followed that putt, Hadwin was tackled, laid flat on his back, by a security guard as he rushed to spray his countryman with the bubbly. You can’t make this stuff up.
- Kim wins the Sony Open in Hawaii as a married man. A month after tying the knot with Korean LPGA Tour star Ji Hyun Oh, Si Woo Kim extended his honeymoon by securing his fourth PGA TOUR victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He fought tooth and nail against Hayden Buckley during the final round and produced a stunning chip-in birdie on the penultimate hole which proved decisive for a one-stroke victory. “I could see her on golf course and when I was a little nervous, that helped me relax. Feels like we’re on honeymoon because we came here a week early,” he said.
- Michael Block makes an ace at the PGA Championship. The crowd roared, and Michael Block, the club pro who captured the hearts of the golfing world at the PGA Championship, thought it might be close. But he didn’t know the 7-iron he hit at the par-3 15thin the final round flew into the hole until his playing partner, Rory McIlroy, walked over and gave him a high five. “It didn’t go in, did it?” Block asked. “Went straight in the hole,” McIlroy replied with a grin. Block, who was the only club pro to cut, bogeyed the next hole but ended up tied for 15th.
- Lucas Glover captures the Wyndham Championship. You had to get the tissues out for this one as Glover’s two children ran onto the green at Sedgefield Country Club shouting, “Daddy, you won.” His daughter was in tears and the normally stoic Glover even had to wipe a few away as he looked at the rainbow in the sky. That Sunday would have been the 97th birthday of Glover’s late grandfather, his “hero” who got him started in the game. Proving that the win was no fluke, Glover – who had switched to a long putter in May to cure a 10-year battle with the putting yips – picked up his sixth career victory the following week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
- Brian Harman wins his first major. Harman’s major championship record was nothing to write home about. He came to England last summer with just two top-10s in 29 career starts. But he defied the odds and the hecklers — one of whom yelled that “he didn’t have the stones for this” — at the Open Championship, grabbing a five-stroke lead after 36 and 54 holes and winning by six. The dominating win was his third on TOUR and the first since the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, a stretch of 168 starts.
- Viktor Hovland shoots final-nine 28 on the way to winning the BMW Championship. The 25-year-old Norwegian made a phenomenal seven birdies on the inward nine to put the finishing touches on a career-low 61. Hovland needed the heroics, too – he trailed by four when he made the turn but was able to overtake world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick. The round of nine-under was the lowest final round by a winner on the PGA TOUR in 2023. Not bad for a man who had entered the week ranked 133rdin final-round scoring average.
- Lexi Thompson plays in the Shriner’s Children’s Open.She came to TPC Summerlin hoping to become the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945 to make a cut on the PGA TOUR. And Thompson impressed – at one point on Friday making birdie on five holes in a 10-hole stretch – but finished three strokes shy of playing the weekend. Her second-round 69 was just the second sub-70 round by a female in TOUR history.
- Viktor Hovland cans a 25-footer at the 14th hole on the way to winning the FedExCup. The clutch birdie putt on the hardest hole at East Lake Golf Club helped Hovland hold off a hard-charging Xander Schauffele, who had trimmed a five-stroke lead at the TOUR Championship to three. The two staged a brilliant final-round dual, Hovland closing with a 63 and Schauffele shooting 62 but the Norwegian walked away with the US$18 million prize and his third win of the season.
- Eric van Rooyen takes emotional win in Mexico. An 18-foot eagle putt on the 72ndhole gave van Rooyen a dramatic victory at the World Wide Technology Championship. Those heroics capped a phenomenal eight-under 28 on the back nine and enabled him to hold off Matt Kuchar and Camilo Villegas by two strokes. Afterwards, van Rooyen fought back tears as he talked about playing for his best friend and former college teammate who is terminally ill with melanoma.
- Tom Kim successfully defends his title at the Shriners Children’s Open. He didn’t go bogey-free for 72 holes like he did in 2022. Still, Kim did something pretty special when he came back to TPC Summerlin and won the Shriners Children’s Open for the second straight year. The 21-year-old South Korean is the youngest three-time winner on TOUR behind legends Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith and Tiger Woods.
- Europe seizes the Ryder Cup. Luke Donald’s team set the tone for the week by powering to a 6.5-1.5 lead after the first day that included wins in all four Foursomes. The Europeans maintained that commanding five-point advantage heading into the Singles where American Rickie Fowler conceded a birdie putt of 2 feet, 8 inches to Tommy Fleetwood for the victory. Rory McIlroy led Europe with a 4-1-0 record, the best of his Ryder Cup career, and Europe won for the eighth time in the last 11 Ryder Cups. And it will now be at least 34 years before the U.S. has another chance to win on foreign soil.
- Jason Day earns second AT&T Byron Nelson title. A final-round 62 enabled the Australian to come from two strokes back and win for the first time since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, a span of more than five years and 106 starts. During that stretch, Day had battled back problems so severe he contemplated giving up the game and coped with the death of his mother. So, his 13th TOUR victory was particularly emotional for the 35-year-old veteran.
- Keegan Bradley wins the Travelers Championship. He didn’t play the final six holes quite the way he wanted but that didn’t stop the New England fans from chanting the name of one of their own as he walked up the 18th hole. Those three bogeys were forgotten as Bradley tapped in a two-foot for par and won the first TOUR event he had ever attended by three strokes. “I can’t even describe what that felt like,” an emotional Bradley said after hugging his wife and kids.
- Sahith Theegala triumphs at the Fortinet Championship. It’s safe to say no one had more friends and family in his gallery at Silverado Country Club than Theegala as the Pepperdine graduate picked up his first career PGA TOUR victory. The affable son of immigrants from India, who grew up in southern California, called their support “mind-blowing” as he converted the third-round lead into a two-stroke victory.
- Rickie Fowler prevails in a playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Fowler needed to birdie the 18thhole twice on Sunday to end a well-scrutinized victory drought of 4 years, 4 months and 29 days. The first came on a 3-foot putt; the second, in the playoff with Adam Hadwin and Collin Morikawa, was a 12-footer. The win was the sixth of his career and helped catapult him onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
- Ludvig Aberg plays in the Ryder Cup. The 25-year-old Swede, who was the No. 1 graduate from PGA TOUR University this year, garnered one of Luke Donald’s captain’s picks just days after winning the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour. A two-time national player of the year at Texas Tech, Aberg — who has yet to make his first start in a major championship — went 2-2-0 at the Ryder Cup. A week later, he lost in a playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship, one of three top-10s on TOUR since he turned pro.
- Collin Morikawa captures the ZOZO Championship. It’s hard to imagine a more popular winner of the tournament than Morikawa, whose father is of Japanese descent. He closed with a 63 – the lowest round of the week – to make up a two-stroke deficit and win by four. Aiding his quest for a sixth TOUR victory in Chiba, Japan was a torrid stretch where he birdied 12 of his last 24 holes.
- Camilo Villegas prevails at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. With the win, Villegas broke a nine-year victory drought but there is so much more to the story. During that time, the 41-year-old Colombian got married and the couple welcomed their daughter, Mia, who died 22 months later after battling brain cancer. A son, Mateo, followed and the toddler was undoubtedly watching his dad win on TV back home, but Mia was very present in her dad’s thoughts as looked skyward after the final putt dropped. A group of Latin American players were waiting greenside to congratulate Villegas, showering him with champagne. Oh, and did we mention that Villegas, who was looking at a trip to Q-school, had come oh-so-close the previous week, tying for second? This just might be the most popular victory of the year.