Whenever there is a pressing topic in golf, not everyone agrees on the same course of action. When that happens, we poll our scribes in a format we like to call Alternate Shot.
ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: As far as the 2017 golf year is concerned, I'm giving the entire proceedings a solid B+ grade. (In other words, it gets a better score than I ever did in college.) We didn't exactly witness much history. Tiger Woods didn't return to win a 15th career major; Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth each came up short in an attempt to claim the career Grand Slam. Then again, we watched redemption in the form of Sergio Garcia's winning the Masters, brilliance in Spieth's coughing up the Open Championship lead then clutching it right back, and controversy in Lexi Thompson's potential major victory that never happened due to a rules violation. What do you think? Am I being too nice or too naughty with that B+ grade?
ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: I actually think that is about right, as there were plenty of highlights but not one thing stands out. I would add Dustin Johnson winning three times before the Masters -- and being a prohibitive No. 1 -- before a freak injury caused him to miss the tournament. There was Justin Thomas' five-victory season, that included a major and a FedEx Cup title. And a U.S. romp at the Presidents Cup. A good bit of fodder, which makes it tough to narrow down. But we'll try anyway and see if anything rises above the rest. If you were to pick a tournament or a major or something you'll remember most about this year, what would it be?
Sobel: Yup, plenty of highlights (and lowlights) throughout the year. I always struggle with the "memorable moment" question a little. I think the test of time will prove that Spieth's back nine at Royal Birkdale -- from the driving-range drop to the near ace to the "go get that" eagle putt -- will endure as the most memorable tournament of the year. A decade from now, when we look back at 2017, that will be the first event that comes to mind. But memorable moments are also personal. For years, the Travelers Championship was my hometown event. I was there when it was literally wiped away for a day, completely off the schedule, only to rise from the dead. I was there when it was struggling to recruit some of the game's best players. And I was there this summer when Spieth holed out a bunker shot to win in a playoff. As a jaded old golf writer, it takes a lot to impress me these days. But standing off the 18th green when that happened, with the crowd going wild and Spieth tossing his wedge in celebration, I got goosebumps at a tournament for the first time in years.
Harig: There probably is no better highlight from the year than the one that caught Spieth tossing his wedge while his caddie, Michael Greller, fired the bunker rake away at the same time. It was a cool moment for a tournament that has worked hard to make the best of what most thought was a bad situation -- following the U.S. Open. But if I had to pick one, Spieth's win at Royal Birkdale is easy. It stands out because it was a major, he seemed in control, then he completely lost it and was looking like he would suffer a bad defeat -- and then he somehow rallied over those closing holes. Meanwhile, Matt Kuchar did almost nothing wrong. He played the final five holes in 2 under par and lost! The story was as much about Kuchar's disappointment as it was Spieth's excitement.
Sobel: Maybe there's some recency bias at play -- after all, the Masters was a whole eight months ago -- but I think Garcia's victory actually gets underplayed when it comes to reviewing achievements. This is a guy who seemed destined to win multiple majors from the time he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, only to spend the next 17 years often blaming the golf gods for his numerous near misses. On the 13th hole at Augusta, Sergio was trailing Justin Rose by 2 strokes and taking a drop after his hooked tee shot landed in a bush. It felt like another close-but-no-cigar result for a player who maybe was destined to never win a big one. Instead, he salvaged par, maintained the same deficit, then went birdie-eagle the next two holes and vanquished his playing partner in a playoff. It was redemption personified, in so many different ways.
Harig: I'm not sure if Sergio's win is underappreciated, but it shouldn't be. He overcame all the obstacles that seemingly held him back for years at a place where he had his share of demons. Maybe it's because Sergio was relatively quiet the rest of the year -- although he won later in Europe. But making that putt on 18 in the playoff was among the moments of the year and it was a bitter blow to Justin Rose, who needed some time to get over it but is the early favorite to win the next Masters. I'll leave you with another memorable moment and see if you agree: when Dustin Johnson took that tee shot over the water in the playoff to set up his victory over Spieth at the Northern Trust.
Sobel: Yup, totally agree -- definitely one of the top moments there, for both the timing and the talent. I'll give you one more: the final-hole eagle putt from the back fringe that gave Jon Rahm his first PGA Tour title at Torrey Pines and signified his elevation to star-level status. Oftentimes, these progressions are more gradual, but Rahm burst onto the scene and is now one of the top five players in the world. And let's not gloss over Thomas, either. From his 59 at the Sony Open to his 63 at the U.S. Open to his first major and the FedEx Cup win, he easily exceeded some lofty expectations this year.
Harig: As we go through it, there were clearly a number of memorable moments. Big and small. But if I have to pick one I'm going with that bogey by Spieth at Royal Birkdale. Just the fact that it was a bogey and we're talking about it is amazing in itself. But what it spawned was even better.
Sobel: Very true. And when we look back at this moment years from now, we might only need to remember those three little words: "Go get that."