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Golf Today 23nd December
Alternative "Awards" for 1999
Highs and lows of 1999
Billy Casper's son pleads not guilty to robbery charges
Payne Stewart's widow to write his biography
Major winners head to Dubai
Payne Stewart dies in plane crash

Highs and lows of 1999

The best of 1999 made a healthy contribution to the golf highlights of the century. So to close out and commemorate a landmark year, here's my list of the many highs and a few lows.

Best Victory

Payne Stewart's incredible poise and putting down the stretch at the U.S. Open was the portrait of a golfer maximising skill and experience. Runnerup: Karrie Webb's Sunday rush to catch Laura Davies at the du Maurier and win her first major.

Most Inspirational

Jose Maria Olazabal outdueling Greg Norman at the Masters, capping a quietly dignified comeback from a near crippling injury to win his second green jacket. Runnerup: Tie between Tom Pernice Jr., who emerged from 15 seasons of obscurity to win at the Buick Open, and Jim Ahern, a lifelong journeyman who defeated Hale Irwin in a playoff at the AT&T Canada Senior Open.

Best Round

David Duval's closing 59 in winning the Bob Hope. No putt was longer than 10 feet, and Duval finished with a stirring 18th hole eagle, in arguably the finest single round ever played. Runnerup: Allan Doyle's closing 64 to blaze up the leaderboard and win the PGA Seniors Championship.

Best Shot

While Sergio Garcia's no-look 6-iron to the 16th at Medinah -- punctuated by a running scissor-kick -- has become a signature moment, my personal favourite was Davis Love III's impossible slow-motion chip-in off the steep bank of the 16th green in the final round at the Masters.

Worst Shot

Eric Booker's smothered 2-iron while leading on the final nine of the Honda Classic that triggered his collapse. Runnerup: Jean Van de Velde's fluffed third shot on the 72nd hole at Carnoustsie that ended in the Barrie Burn.

Best Putt

Justin Leonard's Ryder Cup epic on the 17th green at Brookline will never be forgotten, but Payne Stewart's 15 footer on the last hole at Pinehurst to win the Open was as good as championship golf gets.

Worst Putt

Tom Byrum's anemic uphill approach on the 72nd hole at Kingsmill, when two putts would have given the victory. Runnerup: Davies flinch from four feet on the 71st hole of the du Maurier to finally lose the lead.

Gutsiest Shot

After the sky had fallen, Jan Van de Velde's six-foot putt for a triple bogey 7 on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie to stay in a playoff. Runnerup: Woods must-make downhill 8 footer on the 71st at Medinah to hold his lead on the way to his second major.

Best Year

At age 39, Juli Inkster emerged from apparent career twilight to win five tournaments including two majors, and a spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Runnerup: Bruce Fleisher, the senior player and rookie of the year with seven victories and the money title.

Most Puzzling Year

Tie between Annika Sorenstam, who won twice but never contended in a major, and Phil Mickelson, who for the first time went a full season without winning a tournament.

Most Unsung Feat

Colin Montgomerie's seventh consecutive European Tour money title (the record on the PGA Tour is four straight). Runnerup: Paul Lawrie's making up a PGA Tour record 10 strokes in the final round to win the British Open.

Most Significant Statistic

Woods' 49th position in driving accuracy while holding third in driving distance. No one else in top six in driving distance ranked better than 148th in accuracy. Runnerup: David Duval, ranking 164th in sand saves, getting up and down only 45 percent of the time.

Best Player

Woods by a 3-shot par five. No one has more talent, more discipline, or wants it more. He begins the new millennium a 24-year-old gunning for his fifth consecutive PGA Tour victory.