One jaundiced writer’s eye’s view of golf’s 2010 highs and lows:
Most Over-Reported Story: Tiger Woods’ dalliances. It is none of our business what he does off the golf course, unless he breaks the law. And there is no law against being stupid. At least not yet.
Most Under-Reported Story: Bernhard Langer, at age 53, won the Senior British Open and traveled eight time zones to Seattle and won the U.S. Senior Open – the next week. Unless you have a lot of overseas frequent-flier miles, you don’t realize how nearly impossible a feat that is – and at his age.
Most To-Do About Nothing: Grooves. Period. Before the season started, all the so-called experts insisted that V-grooves would dramatically affect how professional players would score. It was going to be a game-changer, they bellowed. Notice any difference?
Best Shot: You might say that it was Jonathan Byrd’s 204-yard 6-iron for a hole-in-one to win a playoff at Las Vegas. Or you could choose Rocco Mediate’s holed-out wedge that helped him win the Frys.com Open. But the clear choice has to be Phil Mickelson’s 6-iron from 207 yards at the 13th hole on the final day of The Masters. It was behind a tree, off pine straw, and with the championship in the balance. The shot landed three feet from the hole and in classic Mickelson-esque form, he missed the eagle putt, but won the green jacket that he wore to a Krispy Kreme the next day.
Worst Shot: Take your pick of any of the seven that Robert Garrigus took on the final hole of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis that squandered his three-shot lead on the 18th tee and put him into a playoff that he and Robert Karlsson lost to Lee Westwood.
Worst Short-Term Memory: Garrigus, who apparently deleted Memphis from his hard drive in winning the last official event of the PGA Tour year, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, with a final-round 64.
Worst Decision: On his third shot on the second hole in his final round of the U.S. Open – while he was leading the championship – Dustin Johnson elected to turn his wedge upside down and hit the shot left-handed from the greenside rough. You wanted to yell at the television: “Don’t do it!” He made a triple-bogey seven on his way to an 82.
Best Round: Rory McIlroy’s final-round, 10-under 62 to win the Quail Hollow Championship. The Quail Hollow Club, which will host the 2017 PGA Championship, is one of the best, most difficult venues on the PGA Tour. No one in their right mind ever saw a 62 as possible at Quail Hollow.
Worst Effort: Woods at Quail Hollow in his second-round 79 that caused him to miss the cut. He shot 7-over 43 on the back nine and we thought we’d never see that day that Woods would give up on a round, but there it is.
Worst Miscarriage Of Justice: Doug Barron, who you might never have heard of, was booted from the PGA Tour under its drug policy for taking testosterone, prescribed by his doctor. It is not that testosterone makes you a better putter, it is the Tour making itself politically correct, a wrongheaded way to run a railroad. After missing much of 2009 and 2010, the Tour lifted the ban and Barron is at second stage of Q-School.
Best Player Under 21: The easy call is Ryo Ishikawa, the 19-year-old Japanese sensation who shot 58 in a tournament this year on the Japan Tour. But Italian Matteo Manassero is only 17 and won on the European Tour, a much tougher place to break through. And, unlike Ishikawa, Manassero doesn’t have a headcover that looks like him.
Best Moment For Women’s Golf: Paula Creamer, with a painfully injured thumb, won the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont, which must be a terribly difficult place to play for women. The LPGA Tour needs Creamer – and Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel, et al – to win and win often if it is to survive in this economic climate.
Worst Hairdo: McIlroy, who had frosted his curly locks blonde – or platinum or something – when he showed up at the UBS Hong Kong Open. It was bad enough that his Harpo Marx “do” spills gratuitously out of his hat. At the end of the day, it is a last-minute save for Rickie Fowler, who would have been in this space instead.
Worst Wardrobe: Fowler, who can’t get out of this column unscathed. That all-orange deal he wears on Sundays is just ghastly. Fowler gets the slight nod over John Daly, who wears the worst pants ever on Tour. Ever. The best news is that Daly’s slacks manufacturer does not do shirts.
Worst Sponsor’s Exemption: Daly, who out of 20 he received in 2010, missed five cuts, withdrew three times and finished 193rd on the money list. Sponsors still say he brings people through the turnstiles, but why?
Best Moment For Humanity: Just when you are about to lose your faith in professional golfers as greedy, ego-driven cash machines, up steps In-Kyung Kim of Korea. Kim donated all of her first prize of $220,000 for winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational to Ochoa’s charity. It is known that golfers raise money for charity better than any other professional athlete but rarely do they come out of their own pockets. Stand up and cheer for this one.