The Year In Retrospect
Luke Donald rose to No.1 in the world in 2011 by winning four tournaments, by collecting top-10s at a rate not seen since the glory days of Tiger Woods, and by becoming the first player to win the money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. Three weeks after Donald went to No. 1, the golf world celebrated the arrival of 22-year-old Rory McIlroy and his romp at Congressional to win the U.S. Open.
Who could have guessed that McIlroy wouldn’t be the most popular major champion of the year, or even the most popular winner from tiny Northern Ireland? Darren Clarke became the sentimental hero by capturing the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.
In his first time in contention, McIlroy was leading wire-to-wire at the Masters and building a four-shot lead going into the final round. And then came a collapse that put McIlroy in the record book for the wrong reasons. He shot an 80 to tie for 15th place behind champion Charl Schwartzel. Rookie Keegan Bradley took the PGA title.