With an Englishman winning the US Open, a Northern Irishman back at the top of the world rankings as well as English, Scottish and Irish LPGA victories, 2022 has been a momentous year for British and Irish golf.
Yes, this period will be remembered for the unseemly and uncivil war that followed LIV Golf’s arrival in the professional game, but there are still many exciting highlights we can look back on.
Most notable was Matt Fitzpatrick’s emotional triumph at Brookline when he became the first Englishman since Justin Rose in 2013 to win the US National Championship.
A superb new iron from a fairway bunker that set up what turned out to be a championship-winning par was the hit of the year from some distance. We’ve relived Fitzpatrick’s first major win in detail here on BBC Sounds.
Would Rory McIlroy have swapped years with Ryder Cup teammate Sheffield? After all, Fitzpatrick added to his major tally, something the Northern Irishman has wanted to do more than anything else over the past year.
That said, McIlroy can look back to a hugely creditable job in 2022. The 33-year-old was no worse than eighth in any major, was a Masters runner-up – his best result at Augusta – and nearly won the Open at St Andrews.
From the time he switched golf balls after missing the cut at the Texas Open the week before the Masters, he’s been a relentless consistent, living in the rankings week after week.
McIlroy has three PGA Tour victories, won the FedEx Cup and DP World Tour rankings and only Scottie Scheffler has more World Ranking points in 2022.
The 26-year-old from New Jersey had an astonishing first half of the year with his first tour title, the Phoenix Open coming in February and followed by victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC Matchplay and Masters .
Scheffler racked up three more second-place finishes, including a runner-up share with Will Zalatoris behind Fitzpatrick at Brookline last June.
The performance came a month after Justin Thomas landed a late major second at the U.S. PGA Championship in Southern Hills. The Tulsa course was perhaps the best setup in the men’s majors, while a parched St Andrews Old Course still proved capable of identifying the best players in the world in a thrilling 150th Open.
With nine holes to go, McIlroy seemed destined for his fifth major after regularly seeing playing partner and 54-hole co-leader Viktor Hovland. but his earlier failure to capitalize on birdie chances at third and ninth proved costly.
Up front, Cameron Smith went on a charge for the ages.
The Aussie is arguably the greatest shooter in the game and his touch and killer skill propelled him to a championship winning 64, edging out Cameron Young who won the last one.
It was a glorious tournament, worthy of the 150th edition of the game’s oldest major tournament. Smith then defected to LIV as the biggest and most important signing, but the R&A have already said he will be back to defend his title in 2023 at Royal Liverpool.
The AIG Women’s Open broke new ground, held for the first time in this former stronghold of the men’s game Muirfield, and the championship proved to be equally spectacular.
Leaving late to fit in with US television schedules nearly backfired when popular South African Ashleigh Buhai won in near darkness and with too few spectators still in attendance.
The 33-year-old from Johannesburg needed four more holes to defeat Korean PGA Women’s Champion In Gee Chun to claim only her second LPGA win and first major title.
Australian Minjee Lee and American Jennifer Kupcho produced dominant displays to win the US Open and Chevron Championship respectively while Brooke Henderson overcame the forced need to use a shorter driver to clinch the Evian title .
In a year that saw New Zealand’s hugely popular Lydia Ko return to the top of the world rankings and American Nelly Korda overcome a blood clot that required surgery, British and Irish players have also thrived on the LPGA Tour.
Solheim Cup hero Leona Maguire proved her world class credentials by winning the Drive On Championship early.
Then, in a glorious autumn, Charley Hull took a long-awaited second victory on the main women’s circuit and Yorkshire’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff claimed her first title before Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh won the Japan Classic.
All four players are hoping to play in a Solheim European Cup defense in 2023.
The biennial matches between Europe and the United States will form a big part of next year’s narrative, with the Solheim and home Ryder Cups being played in back-to-back weeks at the end of September.
For the Ryder Cup, see if Seamus Power and Sepp Straka can capitalize on some great years in 2022 to fight their way into Luke Donald’s European squad.
And how will the line-ups be affected by LIV? The United States seem all the more embarrassed as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau were made unavailable for defecting in the breakaway series.
European players competing on the LIV circuit will know their status with the DP World Tour after a court hearing in February. This promises to be the first really big date on the golf calendar for 2023.