2018 Newsmakers of the Year: Golf World’s countdown of the top 25 players, events and moments of the past 12 months


It’s an annual tradition at Golf World. Our “Newsmakers of the Year” package has helped cap the year in golf now for more than two decades. From our former print magazine to our current digital publication, readers have been treated to a thoughtful review of the previous 12 months, our writers returning to the players, events and moments that helped define our sport in hopes of offering a hearty encore to the season. During the next two weeks, we’ll continue the tradition by unveiling the top 25 Newsmakers of 2018—Nos. 25 to 11 from Dec. 3-7 and Nos. 10 to 1 from Dec. 10-14. There will be a few no brainers—spoiler alert: U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka makes our list—but also some storylines that are less obvious but, we think, no less worthy of our collective appreciation. So come back each day to see who makes our list as we countdown to our No. 1 Newsmaker of 2018. —Ryan Herrington

Shubshankar Sharma
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No. 23: Shubhankar Sharma

Shubhankar Sharma’s first true introduction to golf fans on the world stage involved an actual—and awkward—introduction with one of his heroes back in March. Sharma, the surprising 36-hole leader at the WGC-Mexico Championship, approached Phil Mickelson on the practice green before the third round and was initially blown off by the five-time major champ, who mistook him for a member of the media. Mickelson wound up winning that week, but Sharma was the event’s breakout star with a performance that helped him earn a Masters invite two days later, making him just the fourth Indian golfer to tee it up at Augusta National. By year’s end, Sharma had collected the European Tour’s rookie-of-the-year award for a two-win campaign and finished 28th in the Race to Dubai. During the Open Championship, Sharma was surprisingly serenaded by a packed restaurant in Carnoustie for his 22nd birthday. Expect even more people to know who he is in 2019. —Alex Myers

RELATED: How Shubhankar Sharma manages as a vegetarian tour pro

Joel Dahmen, Sung Kang
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No. 24: Joel Dahmen/Sung Kang

Cheating is golf’s biggest taboo. It engenders a code of omerta, a cognizance of the scarlet letter that comes with the slightest assertion. It all made Joel Dahmen’s accusation that fellow competitor Sung Kang had knowingly broken the rules at the Quicken Loans National in July the talk of the tournament. Kang, Dahmen’s final-round playing partner, found a hazard at TPC Potomac’s 10th hole. Kang believed his ball passed over the stakes; Dahmen disputed the account, alleging Kang failed to cross the water. The argument continued so long that the group behind played through. Though a rules official eventually sided with Kang—whose T-3 finish earned an Open Championship invite—Dahmen, 31, remained steadfast, taking to Twitter to air his grievance: “Kang cheated. He took a bad drop from a hazard. I argued until I was blue. I lost.” Speaking at Carnoustie, Kang defended his actions. “I did the right thing,” the 31-year-old from South Korea insisted. One silver lining from the thorny incident: Dahmen, a career journeyman, seemed galvanized by the matter, reeling off four consecutive top-15s to keep his card for 2019. As did Kang. —Joel Beall

RELATED: Joel Dahmen’s caddie uses off season to create Oscar-level movie trailer involving his boss

Bernhard Langer
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No. 25: Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer, such is his consistency and resistance to aging, has turned the PGA Tour Champions season into an endless loop. For the fourth time in the last five years (and the fifth time overall), the World Golf Hall of Famer won the season-long Charles Schwab Cup and its $1 million bonus. His 14 top-10s led the tour for the seventh straight year. His earnings ($2,222,154) also led the tour for a seventh straight year. In those seven years, he’s led the tour in scoring average four times, and finished second three times, including this year. At 61, he is spotting the competition as many as 11 years in age, and is still dominating. His 38 career senior wins are seven shy of Hale Irwin’s all-time record, which seems distant, if it weren’t Langer doing the chasing. The one honor that Langer walked away with in 2018 for the first time? The PGA Tour’s Payne Stewart Award for quality of character and philanthropy. —John Strege

RELATED: The clubs Bernhard Langer used to win on the PGA Tour Champions in 2018


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