Looking back on the 2011 golf season can we say that it was one of the more interesting seasons in recent memory, or was it what we expected when predictions were made at the end of 2010?
Arguably the best story in 2011, and one that has not received the coverage it deserves, is Yani Tseng. The 22-year-old Taiwanese phenom dominated women’s golf winning 12 tournaments including 2 Majors, held the No. 1 ranking for 43 consecutive weeks and had the second-highest annual money winnings on the LPGA tour in history. Most players never reach 12 wins during their career and achieving that total in single season is impressive. Her performance should be recognized as one of the finest seasons in golf history.
The Majors were nothing short of fantastic. Charl Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to capture his first Green Jacket. Fittingly, his victory came on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player’s first Masters victory in 1961 which marked the first time an International player had ever won the Masters. Rory McIlroy shrugged off a disastrous final round at Augusta National and crushed the field at the US Open cruising to an eight-shot victory. Darren Clarke proved that the “old guys” still have some game and hoisted the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s. And Keegan Bradley became the first player in recorded history to make a triple bogey in the final nine holes of a major and go on to win the tournament.
Luke Donald finished the year as the number one ranked player in the world and is the first to ever win the money title on the PGA Tour and the Order of Merit on the European PGA Tour. Winning both money titles is an amazing achievement. The level of consistency that Donald had to display is extremely difficult to achieve on one tour let alone on two. Basically, Luke could not play poorly during any tournament he entered and that is exactly what he did.
Bill Haas won the FedEx Cup and The Tour Championship in one day and took home a whopping $11.4 million. The prize money aside Bill is putting together a super career so far and has the game to contend for Majors in 2012.
The US Team continued to dominate the Presidents Cup winning its fourth consecutive Cup, the sixth if you take into account the 2003 competition which ended in a tie. The next test is the Ryder Cup which has been far more difficult for the Americans. Can the US continue its strong play and bring the cup back home?
Then there was Tiger. After a two year, 26 tournament hiatus Tiger returned to the winner’s circle with a win at the Chevron World Challenge. That came on the heels of a strong showing at the Australian Open and a decisive victory over Aaron Baddeley that clinched the Presidents Cup for the US team. We don’t know if Tiger will return to his past dominance on the course, but there is no doubt that he will remain the top story in 2012.