Presenting: The Best of the Best of 2006

O.K. The moment you've all been waiting for... or not. Anyway, it's the moment for me to expound upon announce MY choices for MY 2006 Best of the Best in Golf Awards. Don't expect any objectivity here. No thought will be given to scores or statistics. Just the very biased opinions of an impassioned, and not overly knowledgeable, beginning golfer.
When I announced I was doing this list I got lots of emails, most of them negative. Some called it pretentious, or just lame. Others said it was self-centered crap. And those were just the ones from my husband. Well, Message to Nick: You're not the boss of me. This is MY list and MY blog! So, without further ado her they are, The Best of the Best of 2006.

Most Interesting Player - Male: Tiger Woods. Sorry, I'm with everyone else on this one. I just couldn't go controversial here, no way, no how. Yes, it seems obvious. It IS obvious, but Tiger's interestingness goes way beyond golf, and even for him this was an exceptional year. On so many fronts. From the death of his Dad and his subsequent unsuccessful struggle to make the cut at Winged Foot, to the amazing stretch of PGA Tour Victories that followed. It was All so compelling. Then there was the controversy of fake photos in Ireland, The Ryder Cup Questions, and the announcement of the first Tiger Woods Golf be built in Saudi Arabia...of all debatable locals. So, though I rarely write about Tiger Woods, because everyone else does it for me, this was not negotiable. The Most Interesting Male Player of 2006 just had to be Tiger. No real runner up either. Not when Tiger’s in the game.

Most Interesting Player - Female: Lorena Ochoa.
Again, this choice is not too controversial, but she's definitely an ultra-interesting player. POY, AOY, she got all the big awards, but remained so discreet and subtle. There’s even something about her demeanor, when observed on a glowing flat screen, that practically seems aloof, but yet her kindness and generosity are already legendary. Some say her incredible year was merely a fluke, but like most, I think she’s the real deal, and I sure do welcome that. Runner up: Michelle Wie. Some love her, some loath her, but I don’t think there’s any question she’s one of the most interesting Female players of 2006. Time Magazine even included her on their list of The 100 People who Shape our World in 2006. Category: Heros and Pioneers. Enough said. Personally, I’m a huge Michelle fan, and I can’t wait to see what she does in 2007.

Sexiest Player - Male: Ernie Els. Ok here's where the controversy (and total lack of objectivity) starts. Anyone who's read my posts knows I have this "thing" for Ernie Els. Can't help it, I know he's not the obvious choice, but he's mine, and there’s a very salacious good reason for that. Runner's up: Alvaro Quiros, the sexy Spanish sequel to Sergio, and smoldering Latino Camillo Villegas. What's not to lust like about them two?

Sexiest Player - Female: Natalie Gulbis. A decade ago it would have been hard to find one, now it's hard to limit it to several! There are just so many sexy women players these days, and frankly I would venture to say Natalie’s looks are not what makes her sexy. OK, she’s pretty, but not ultra-pretty like some of the other girls out there. What makes Natalie so sexy is her seeming accessibility and openness. When you feel like a girl would always be happy to see you and always ready to listen to you...when you feel like you could really get to know a girl (I'm just speculating here) it definitely makes her sexy. And this is what Natalie projects. In a really good way. Runners up: The Australian Calendar Girls, just have one look at their calendar and I'm sure you'll agree.

Most Stylish Golf Outfit - Male: Sergio Garcia. Stylish Sergio has been known to make a fashion faux pas or two...or ten. Normally involving too much of one yellow color. But this look is spot-on. Worn during practice for The Open Championship last July, The palm green is distinctive, but sporty, and kept under control by the black in the shirt and trousers. It’s his accessories however, that really take the outfit to the next level. How many of us could pull of a palm green croc-embossed belt? Or could it be real Crocodile. PETA sure wouldn’t like that. So lets assume it’s not. Nice going Sergio.

Most Stylish Golf Outfit - Female: Paula Creamer. It was at the Samsung and it was Paula Creamer. Paula always does it up. Normally in head to toe pink, which makes some people want to throw up. I happen to like the Pink Panther Paula but this look wasn’t that. This was the Preppy Patriotic Paula and I’m telling you, it worked. Crisp navy shorts and polo shirt against an uncharacteristic golden tan (self-tanner, body bling?) and white/navy shoes and cap. But it was the red white and blue ribbon and peace symbol earrings that really made a (political) statement. I for one, heard it loud and clear, and the look is my pick for Outfit of the Year.

Most Exciting My Favorite Tournament - Male: The US Open at Winged Foot. It was the beginning of summer and it was the first major tournament I ever attended. I was totally new to golf (well before I started this blog) and everything seemed mysterious; The hallowed historic venue, the schmoozing and socializing, the game of golf itself even. I was only there on the first day, and mainly in a hospitality tent, but I went home and was riveted to the wide-screen for the rest. Up to the bitter end. And that was when I first knew I was into golf.

Most Exciting My Favorite Tournament - Female: Samsung World Championship. it may not have been the best or the most exciting (that’s why I changed the category) but it's the one I’ll remember... because of the time of year and because of my newness to watching and writing about golf. Lorena’s extraordinary round, Michelle's mishaps. It was just lots of fun to watch. For me anyway.

Juiciest Golf Gossip Item: John Daly. A as one reader suggested, John Daly's trials and tribulations have got to be way up there. First his wife gets thrown in prison...with her parents, no less...then once she's out they get divorced. There were also allegations of excessive drinking and gambling and a rumored liaison with Britney Spears. I agree with my reader. John Daly IS the item. I still love him though. And Runner up: Greg Norman gave John a run for his money. With a divorce, a rebound romance, and a beautiful golf-matched daughter he provided his own share of golf tabloid titillation.

Most Innovative New Golf Product: Tasty Golf Tees. I know from whence I chew. And from the time I chewed that first Strawberry Tee I was convinced that this was a great product. Maybe it’s not high tech, maybe it’s not going to add yards to your drive, but it’s a clever little item that, once you get used to it, becomes indispensable, at least for a tee chewer like me. Best Personalized Golf Product: My Hannigan Tartan Putter Grip. I never even knew we had a family tartan pattern. Now I have it on a putter grip, emblazoned with my name, no less. The grip has a great feel too. You can choose virtually any pattern you want. Lorena has the Mexican Flag on hers. It seems to work for her too.

Biggest Golf Blunder: Phil Michelson at Winged Foot. Phil's disaster at Winged Foot was the kind of classic 72nd hole meltdown that only happens once a year. One hopes. Michelle Wie at Samsung would probably be a close runner up, though. Ouch.

Best Golf Girl's Diary Post: Golf Curmudgeons. I I like the way this post came out and believe there’s truth in it. Runner up: Dubai or Not Dubai. I just had such fun writing that piece and all of the posts from the Dubai Ladie's Masters.

Best Golf Blogger: All Golf Bloggers. I know how lame that must sound, like some kind of a yellow bellied cop-out, but if Time Magazine can elect You as its Person of the Year, I can sure as hell choose All Golf Bloggers as my Golf Blogger of the Year. Yes, I'm partial to the blogs that are updated regularly - though I know how impossible that can be - and the ones that are humorous or light, but I do believe I've learned something from just about every golf blog I've read and I think they each offer different things to different readers. Therefore I feel justified in my cop out choice.

So that's it. I'm sure there'll be those who disagree with my choices. But remember they're just very personal choices. As in: “I never claimed to be an expert in these things, Nick, I just like to write about them”. Oh, BTW, One final category, Golf Husband of the Year: That would have to be Nick.