As we began the 2011 golf season with last week’s season opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the gang at Waggle wants to take a quick look back at the year that was 2010. Last year was a unique and exciting year for professional golf. It began with the #1 Ranked Player in the world in rehab because of his sex addiction, estranged from his wife and children and with no definitive date set as to when he might return to competitive golf action or his home in Orlando FL. Of course we are talking about Tiger Woods and as the story began to unfold there could not have been any journalist or fan that could have predicted exactly what was to follow over these last twelve months for Mr. Woods. We saw a little of the old Tiger magic towards the end of the year and wish him well in 2011. Watching golf on TV is never as interesting when Tiger isn’t in the mix.
The men’s tour had a number of memorable moments throughout the year, but no individual player that dominated during Tiger’s early absence and unusually poor play. Phil Mickelson looked poised to carry the torch for the USA as the world’s best player after his phenomenal win at Augusta in April pulling off masterful shots to hold off Lee Westwood in what amounted to a heads up duel in securing his 3rd green jacket. As soon as it became apparent he could take over the number one spot in the world rankings he absolutely disappeared from the competitive landscape and finished with a pedestrian year after taking the year’s 1st major.
Another infamous storyline in 2010 was the tumultuous ups and downs for the young long hitting upstart Dustin Johnson and the heartbreak he endured at both the US Open played this year at Pebble Beach and the PGA Championship played in late August in Wisconsin on a course where there were more bunkers than grass and which proved to be his ultimate undoing. As if his Sunday meltdown (81) at Pebble Beach wasn’t enough he wound up being penalized on the 72nd hole for grounding his club in a hazard (an unmarked waste bunker smaller than my kids sandbox and way more difficult to identify as such) and keeping him from joining Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson in a playoff for the Wannamaker Trophy. A playoff the smooth swinging German Kaymer won in claiming his first major.
Other players having solid years included Graham McDowell and his US Open victory, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter just to name a few. Here’s also hoping the young guns will also re-emerge in 2011. Exciting gunslingers like Camillo Villegas and Anthony Kim both coming off disappointing years by their standards.
Another highlight of 2010 was the raw talent and colorful attire of Rickie Fowler bursting onto the PGA Tour scene. It appears only a matter of time before he captures his first PGA Tour victory. His brilliant performance in the final round of the Ryder Cup, finishing up with three consecutive birdies to halve his match certainly captured the full attention of Golf Nation.
And certainly last, but not least Lee Westwood took over the world #1 ranking from none other than Tiger Woods without winning a single major event. A contender in many of the recent majors and a very consistent player he has competed successfully across the globe and will begin 2011 very focused and determined to win his first major.
Senior Tour fans got a real treat with the almost full time inclusion of Fred Couples to the senior tour ranks. The sweet swingin’ , easy going “Boom Boom” had a great coming out party with four wins and 13 top 10’s in 17 starts and a 2nd place finish in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Just edging Fred out for player of the year honors was the steadiest player on tour, Bernhard Langer. He won five times and had 15 top ten finishes out of 23 starts.
The LPGA Tour had it’s share of excitement too. Yani Tseng won the Rolex Player of the year honors. Ai Miyazato won 5 times on tour. Paula Creamer won her first major at the Women’s U.S. Open at Oakmont and Christie Kerr won the LPGA Championship by a whopping twelve shots. The ever popular and charismatic Michelle Wie won her 2nd LPGA event in 2010 and starred in one of the better golf related TV commercials for Kia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vQyZ8BoNSQ). Here’s hoping her golf and acting career continue to blossom in 2011.
So as we say one final farewell to what was the 2010 golf season we look forward to an awesome 2011.
TerpGolfDude will be following the pro tours for Waggle.com this season.