The Year In Retrospect
The seeds for a power shift in the increasingly global nature of golf were planted in the arid desert on opposite sides of the world, from the Middle East to Arizona. They began to blossom at the Abu Dhabi Championship, the first big event on the 2010 European Tour, when 25-year-old Martin Kaymer of Germany picked up his first win of the year by holding off Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy.
Two weeks later, Miguel Angel Jimenez matched shots with Lee Westwood on the weekend until beating him in a playoff at the Dubai Desert Classic. And so the stage was set for the first World Golf Championship of the year in the high desert north of Tucson, Arizona. And while the series are now held almost exclusively in America, there was a distinctive European flavour. For the first time in the 12-year history of the Accenture Match Play Championship, no Americans were to be found in the semi-finals. On the final day, only a pair of Englishmen were left. Poulter worked his short-game magic for a 4-and-2 victory over Paul Casey and his first title in America. At the time, England alone occupied No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 in the World Ranking – Westwood, Poulter and Casey – and it was only going to get better. By year end, there was an argument over which continent had the best players. All this and more are included in the 45th edition of the annual founded by Mark H. McCormack, Rolex presents the World of Professional Golf 2019.
Mr. McCormack, the founder and chairman of IMG, passed away in 2003 at the age of 72, but this publication continues in his memory. Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland became the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open with his one-shot victory over Gregory Havret of France, a final day at Pebble Beach that at one point featured Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. For the first time since 1909, there were no Americans among the top three in their national championship. The majors ended with Kaymer winning the PGA Championship in a playoff over Bubba Watson, marking the first time since 1999 that two different Europeans had won majors in the same season. And there was still more to come.
McDowell delivered his own shot heard round the world to help Europe win back the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales. And as a remarkable season for Europe was winding down, Westwood replaced Woods atop the World Ranking. It was the first time a European had been No.1 since 1992. Was it the start of a new golden era for Europe, harking back to the days of Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam? “I think it’s been a golden era for a couple of years now,” Westwood said. It was anything but for the United States. The lone American to win a major championship was Phil Mickelson at the Masters. The only American to win a World Golf Championship was Hunter Mahan in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone. The Players Championship, boasting the deepest and strongest field of the year, was won by Tim Clark of South Africa.