Whole in one – World golf in a nutshell

gives his review of the last year in golf

Rickie Fowler, unsurprisingly a nominee for fashion faux pas of the year. Image: Chris Breikss via Flickr Creative Commons

Rickie Fowler, unsurprisingly a nominee for fashion faux pas of the year. Image: Chris Breikss via Flickr Creative Commons

YEAR IN REVIEW

When the annals of golf are written 2010 will go down as one of the most tumultuous years in the history of the game. A year that started with Tiger Woods and his scandalous private life adorning the cover of almost every tabloid, golf eventually took centre stage and fans were treated to some of the gutsiest performances and heart-wrenching losses seen on the golf course in a long time.

So with just a few weeks of this year remaining – and the current downfall of snow making the golf course seem like a distant summer’s dream – what better opportunity to dish out, for the first time ever, Nouse’s very own world golf awards.

Player of the year

Nominees: Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer

Winner: Martin Kaymer

Call me biased but the Europeans dominated world golf this year. Westwood rose to world number one, dethroning Tiger Woods. Graeme McDowell had three wins including the U.S. Open and did Europe proud at Celtic Manor in an unforgettable Ryder Cup. But it was the quiet, unassuming German who beat them all.

In only his fourth year on Tour Kaymer won four times around the world. He triumphed in the heat at Abu Dhabi in January, he won the Alfred Dunhill Links in the arctic conditions of Scotland in October and in between he stormed to victory in the KLM Open and gained his first taste of major success in the P.G.A Championship at Whistling Straits.

In the European Tour’s season finale, the Dubai World Championship, Kaymer did enough to consolidate his position at the top of the Race to Dubai standings. A player always tipped for big things, Kaymer now leads the pack of young European golfers dominating leaderboards worldwide.

Performance of the year

Nominees: Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Laura Davies

Winner: Louis Oosthuizen – 2010 British Open

As much as it didn’t allow for the final day thrills of a British Open, you cannot deny that Oosthuizen’s performance around old St. Andrews was a masterclass in just about everything. In second place after round one, Oosthuizen took advantage of fortuitous conditions in round two and never looked back claiming the Claret Jug with a seven shot cushion.

He made it look like he was playing for a quid with mates on a Sunday afternoon while all those around him tried in vain to mount a challenge. He will not win another major but can breathe easy knowing that this win came in the most majestic fashion.

Round of the year

Nominees: Rory McIlroy, Stuart Appleby, Ryo Ishikawa

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Easy one this one. Having made the cut on the number McIlroy produced arguably the performance of the year over the weekend at the Quail Hollow Championship.

On one of the toughest courses, against one of the toughest fields, the Northern Irishman blitzed his way through the pack with a 66 on Saturday. But it was a ten under par 62 in the final round – breaking the course record by two and becoming the youngest winner in P.G.A. Tour history – that made this so special. Oh yeah, and he hit two of the contenders for shot of the year in the process.

Shot of the year

Nominees: Jonathan Byrd, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

Winner: Phil Mickelson

You just know that Mickelson had to produce something outrageous to claim this one. Byrd had a hole in one to win a playoff and Woods fizzed a 3-wood that started in the middle of the Pacific before cutting back to fifteen feet on the eighteenth at Pebble Beach.

So what made Lefty’s shot so good? The situation. Picture this: It’s Sunday at Augusta, you are in with a chance to win but hit your drive right on thirteen into a bed of trees. The ball is resting atop pine needles and there’s 209 yards – and two trees directly in front with a slither of a gap between them – separating you and the flag. What do you do? If you’re sane you lay up. If you’re Mickelson you risk everything, take out a six iron, and launch it to three feet.

Celebration of the year

Nominees: Jeff Overton/Bubba Watson, Jonathan Byrd, European Ryder Cup Team

Winner(s): Jeff Overton/Bubba Watson

In one of the most hotly contested awards, the sheer over-the-top antics of Overton and Watson just gives them the edge.

You would have thought that even an eagle on a par-four would do little to excite these guys. They are that good. But the Ryder Cup is a different week when we see different sides to players. And no one could have known that Overton was a volcano ready to explode. Contrast the simultaneous right-left jabs of Watson, the vocal cord-bursting hollering of Overton, and the commentary of the archaic Peter Alliss, and you have a worthy winner of celebration of the year.

Fashion faux pas of the year

Nominees: John Daly, U.S. Ryder Cup Team, Rickie Fowler

Winner: U.S. Ryder Cup Team

When Monty and Pavin were announced as the two captains for the 2010 Ryder Cup doubt arose over Pavin’s qualifications for such a role. Could he provide leadership? Did he have the personality to fire up a group of individuals into a strong team unit? Unfortunately, no one bothered to question his fashion sense, for if they had how things might have been so very different.

From the etch-a-sketch-like print of the Ryder Cup trophy that adorned the team jumpers to the high-school basketball team-esque waterproof suits that failed spectacularly, the American team looked decidedly bedraggled against the tried-and-tested traditional style of captain Montgomerie.

Conclusions

And so, as this season comes to its climax, in little over a month it starts up all over again. The question on everybody’s lips concerning next year is whether Tiger Woods will return as the man he once was. Winless in majors since June 2008 what seemed inevitable, now to some, seems impossible. Will Woods break the major record of Jack Nicklaus?

If he wishes to do so he will have to fight his way through a depth of talent from Europe. No longer are the Europeans the ones that hold the promise, but fail to deliver. With the breakthrough year of Martin Kaymer symbolising an entire Tour look to see our boys bringing in the trophies in the new year.

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