Justin Rose: World number six leads promising crop of homegrown talent
Justin Rose's latest victory capped another fine year for UK golf with home success across the globe and at varying levels of the game.
Rose was the standard bearer despite spending many months wondering whether 2017 would prove one of those nearly years. There was a discernible hangover after losing his Masters play-off against Sergio Garcia.
However, the 37-year-old Englishman concluded his season in astonishing style. Never out of the top ten in his last ten tournaments, he romped to a third victory in that spell by finishing 29 under par at the Indonesian Masters, winning by eight strokes.
Rose plays with seemingly unshakeable confidence when he feels he is better than any of his rivals on a leaderboard. He has earned this sense of arrogance through sustained excellence.
It is the fifth time since 2012 he has finished a year inside the top seven in the world. Twelve months ago he had slipped to 15th in the rankings but heads into the new year knocking loudly on the door of the top five.
Even so, the current world number six will still feel that a couple of titles escaped his grasp. The Masters was the prime example but also November's DP World Tour Championship.
In that Dubai event it was interesting to witness how uncertainty suddenly crept into his play just when eventual winner Jon Rahm, the only player ranked higher than him in the field, charged into contention.
Nevertheless, Rose - the 2013 US Open winner - is long established as golfer of formidable pedigree. He will be targeting his return to Augusta next April with the primary objective of becoming a multiple major champion.
The Olympic gold medallist's near miss at the Masters was the closest the UK came to a major victory in 2017. But there was still much to cheer, even though our golfers probably failed to garner due recognition from the wider sporting public.
There are five UK players in the world's top 18 and English players celebrated no fewer than 10 victories on the European Tour. Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton joined Rose in landing multiple triumphs.
Graeme Storm set the tone by holding off Rory McIlroy in South Africa last January while Matt Wallace (Portuguese Open) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (European Masters) celebrated notable victories.
So too did Bath's Jordan Smith at the European Open in July. The 25-year-old Challenge Tour graduate possesses a glorious swing and an enviable winning habit with five professional victories already to his name.
The production line of English talent shows no sign of drying up. Georgia Hall, the 21-year-old from Dorset, won the Ladies European Tour order of merit and finished an encouraging third in the Ricoh Women's British Open.
She also made a fine Solheim Cup debut, winning both her foursomes matches despite Europe falling to a heavy defeat in Iowa last August.
Among the unpaid ranks, Harry Ellis became only the third player to win both the Amateur Championship and the English Amateur while Alfie Plant won the European title.
Those in charge at England Golf should take great pride in the way their elite talent is continuing to develop.
They should also be congratulated on their desire to modernise the grassroots game to encourage more youngsters to take up the sport.
A significant step was taken recently to streamline England Golf's board, reducing it from 15 to 12 members. This is the sort of administrative change that might not seem important at first glance.
However, they have created a more balanced leadership with greater diversity which filters through to county representatives. This ensures England Golf meets the government's Gold Standard, which allows public money to flow into the game.
Just as importantly it keeps golf in line with other progressive sports and this is vital to the cause of shedding the stuffy, elitist image which so often holds it back.
There is still a long way for the game to go in this regard but it is increasingly becoming a top priority for those who run the sport.
The constant flow of young, exciting and charismatic talent can only help the cause.
Scotland's Connor Syme turned professional after playing the Walker Cup and immediately finished 12th in the Portugal Masters.
The 22-year-old's management group - Modest! Golf - is backed by One Direction's Niall Horan and having subsequently come through European Tour Q School, there is compelling evidence that Syme's career is heading in the right direction.
And the fact that golf holds appeal for pop stars such as Horan, suggests potential for it to become increasingly relevant to a younger generation of fans.
Especially, given that 2017 has shown that there is no shortage of home success to celebrate.