GOLF NEWS - A former number one's torrid 2020 contrasts with a new star's breakout year in AFP Sport's golf talking points this week:
Koepka taps out
A year ago Brooks Koepka was top of the world, with back-to-back PGA Championships and two US Opens to his name in a little over two years.
But on Friday, with almost his last act of a dismal 2020, he missed an 18-inch putt to end a year he would quickly like to forget.
At the US PGA Tour's Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, Koepka missed a 10-footer for birdie on his 14th hole - then rushed the subsequent tap-in which lipped out for a bogey.
He finished at level par for 36 holes, but the cut fell at one-under to confirm a winless calendar year for Koepka.
Along the way he withdrew from the FedEx Cup playoffs and the US Open in September with a variety of hip and knee ailments and tumbled from number one to 12th in the world rankings.
Koepka will now focus on building fitness for 2021 after showing only rare glimpses of form this year.
He did finish tied seventh at the Masters last month and though it was his best major performance of 2020, he never threatened to win.
And so it was almost fitting that a shoddy short putt should put his sorry season out of its misery.
Asked to sum up his 2020 by a reporter, the always honest Koepka replied: "I don't know if I could say that without getting fined.
While most people want to see the back of Covid-ridden 2020, Viktor Hovland will look back on it with fondness after bookending his year with a second PGA Tour victory at the Mayakoba Classic.
At the Puerto Rico Open in February, Hovland became the first Norwegian to win on the PGA Tour and moved from 100th to 60th in the world as a result.
After his latest win he moves to 15th in the rankings, the first player from his country to break into the world's top 15.
Hovland's elevation will almost certainly mean Olympic Games and Ryder Cup debuts in 2021 and, at just 23 years old, he has now joined the ranks of European golf royalty.
He becomes only the fifth European since 1945 to win multiple PGA Tour events before his 24th birthday.
When you consider the other four are Severiano Ballesteros, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm, that is illustrious company indeed.
Driving home for Christmas
Anglea Stanford will head into this week's US Women's Open at Houston, with a victory under her belt and hoping history can repeat itself.
Back in 2003, Stanford won her first LPGA Tour title and a week later found herself in an 18-hole Monday playoff with Hilary Lunke and Kelly Robbins at the US Women's Open at Pumpkin Ridge, Oregon.
Lunke prevailed by one stroke and Stanford had to wait 15 years till she finally landed a major at the 2018 Evian Championship.
Now the 43-year-old Texan, who won the Volunteers of American Classic near her Fort Worth home on Sunday, is looking forward to a US Open in her home state.
"I'm excited that I get to get in my truck and I get to drive down I45 and play a US Open in Houston," the world number 46 told reporters after her seventh LPGA win in two decades on the elite women's tour.
"I've been so fired up about this all year. I'm just so happy that I get to play an Open in Texas."
If she gets into a playoff again, a different outcome might just enable Stanford to pop the famous trophy into her "truck", along with all her gear, and drive it home for Christmas.
Top 10s, week beginning December 7, 2020:
1. Dustin Johnson (USA) 12.88
2. Jon Rahm (ESP) 10.26
3. Justin Thomas (USA) 9.38
4. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 7.42
5. Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 7.28
6. Webb Simpson (USA) 7.19
7. Collin Morikawa (USA) 7.14 (+1)
8. Xander Schauffele (USA) 7.12 (-1)
9. Patrick Cantlay (USA) 6.37
10. Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 6.20
15. Viktor Hovland (NOR) 4.52 (+11)
1. Ko Jin-young (KOR) 7.69
2. Kim Sei-young (KOR) 7.38
3. Nelly Korda (USA) 6.59
4. Danielle Kang (USA) 6.40
5. Park In-bee (KOR) 6.38
6. Brooke Henderson (CAN) 5.81
7. Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 5.70
8. Minjee Lee (AUS) 5.12
9. Kim Hyo-joo Kim (KOR) 4.90 (+1)
10. Park Sung-hyun (KOR) 4.89 (-1)