Tiger Woods, Majors and the Ryder Cup: A Review of the 2010 Golf Season

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Tiger Woods, Majors and the Ryder Cup: A Review of the 2010 Golf Season
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Although the title would suggest that I am going to review 2010 in golf, I would like to start by re-living that night of Nov. 27, 2009.

As all golf fans know, this was the night when Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game, came crashing down.

On a personal level, the start of the whole saga was rather surreal. I had been sitting enjoying a few drinks with university friends, and one of the subjects we discussed was who the greatest sportsmen in our lifetime were.

With us all being around 18-25, instantly Woods’s name was thrown into the discussion and no one disagreed. As a prospective journalist, I always like to keep up to date with the news, so moments later I went on my phone to check the headlines. I was taken aback when it was revealed Tiger had been in a car crash. When I heard an hour or so later he was fine, I thought that was the end of it.

I was utterly stunned when stories of his affairs with countless women came out, including porn stars, but let’s forget about that.

I would like to point out to readers that I am a huge fan of Woods. He has totally transformed golf for my generation and he is one of the best sportsmen to watch every week when he plays.

However, his “demise” in 2010 meant it actually turned out to be one of the main reasons why it has been a superb year for golf.

What I mean by that is, many young golfers and established ones discovered hot form as Tiger lost his, and this to me was superb.

It is a rarity when you get nearly all of the majors producing four days of superb golf, but that’s what we got this year. Only the Open was the exception, but even then we were treated to a superb performance by Louis Oosthuizen at St Andrews.

Firstly, the Masters at Augusta was one of the best in years. Of course this was the first tournament where Tiger Woods came back, and a lot of people have forgotten that he produced a great performance and finished tied for fourth.

However, the tournament was all about Phil Mickelson, who picked up his third green jacket with a spectacular final day performance, blowing Augusta and Lee Westwood apart. Westwood is one of my favourite golfers, so it was disappointing to see him miss out again on getting his first major, but Mickelson's play was simply breathtaking.

Talking of breathtaking, Anthony Kim’s play was stunning as he shot a 65 on the final day to move into third place.

Next up was the US Open at Pebble Beach in June. Again, a brilliant four days of golf was produced, and a first-time major winner in Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland emerged.

Back in 2000, Woods ripped up this course, and arguably he was just about as perfect a golfer you could ever wish to see. But this time around, conditions were tougher.

McDowell had played solid golf over the first three days, but had been overshadowed by American Dustin Johnson, who went into the final day three shots ahead. No golf fan could have predicted what happened next, as Johnson blew up with an 82 to finish five shots behind McDowell.

I was also fascinated by the performance of journeyman Gregory Havret from France. Although he was a previous winner of the Scottish Open, he had never done anything at the majors until this, and to see him outscoring Woods (another fourth place criminally forgotten by many) was great.

The Open at St. Andrews was the poorest of the majors, but still had some memorable moments, including the performance of Louis Oosthuizen. To score 18-under over the four days at one of the toughest courses was a brilliant performance.

The first day also saw a memorable nine-under 63 shot by Rory McIlroy, who sadly fell away with an 80 on the second day.

Once again Lee Westwood, who had been struggling with an injury prior to the tournament, produced a strong performance at a major and finished second, albeit by seven strokes to worthy winner Oosthuizen.

The final major of the year in August, the USPGA championship, produced the most controversy. An enthralling championship came to a controversial conclusion when Dustin Johnson (him again) was penalised two shots for apparently grounding his club in a bunker, something which to me seemed hard to believe in hindsight. However, this led to a playoff between German Martin Kaymer and American Bubba Watson, two of golf's most exciting young talents in 2010.

Kaymer ultimately won, having played the more sensible golf (Watson was too aggressive and found water), so the German became the third first-time major winner in 2010.

And finally, what a Ryder Cup we were treated to in 2010. Although it had to be extended to a Monday finish for the first time ever, this made it even better.

Coming down to the final singles match to decide the outcome was brilliant viewing that I could not take my eyes off. Every one of the 24 players contributed over the four days at Celtic Manor, something which doesn’t always happen.

The two captains, Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, both instilled a huge amount of passion in their teams, as could be seen with their reactions to gaining even half a point.

All things considered, Tiger Woods’s demise wasn’t pretty to watch, but it led to new talents emerging in the Majors, something I believed wouldn’t have happened otherwise if Woods had continued to play well.

The Majors themselves were all enthralling in their own way and produced four worthy and different champions.

The Ryder Cup was the best and tightest in years, and I was glued to the screens and jumped for joy when McDowell holed that winning putt around 3:30 p.m. (my time) on Monday, Oct. 4, 2010.

Next year has a lot to live up to.

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