Back 9: European Tour Players Dominate in 2010Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The poor play in 2010 of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson left the door open for some unlikely players to add new hardware to their trophy cases. Phil did manage to win The Masters in April, but was diagnosed with arthritis later in the summer which forced him to limit his practice and physical fitness schedules thus hampering his effectiveness in tournament play and falling to #4 in the world. All of Tiger’s problems seemed to be self inflicted in 2010. After a nasty confrontation with that pesky fire hydrant during Thanksgiving weekend last year Tiger has had to endure unprecedented media scrutiny, an untidy divorce, coaching and swing changes, as well as a calendar year with no official wins. He looked like a man who wanted to be anywhere but on a golf course for most of the year.
European Tour players dominated the world golf scene and may continue to do so in 2011. Englishman Lee Weswood currently holds the #1 Official World Golf Ranking and Germany’s Martin Kaymer is #3. European Tour players occupy 7 of the top 11 slots in the world rankings and European players won 3 of the major championships in 2010. Irishman Graeme McDowell outlasted the field to claim the U. S. Open. His accurate driving, laser perfect iron play and overall calm and determined demeanor over hard and fast Pebble Beach plus his consistently strong play throughout the balance of 2010 has shown that he is planning to be around for awhile. South African Louis Oosthuizen conquered gale force winds to lap the field at St. Andrews to take the Open Championship. Finally, but definitely not least, Martin Kaymer mastered the 1,200 bunkers at Whistling Straits to hold the PGA Wanamaker Trophy. He also won 3 European Tour events and claimed the Race to Dubai becoming the #1 player on the European Tour.
Europe defeated Team USA in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales. Graeme McDowell won the final point for the Continentals on the 17th hole in the final match of the tournament. Captain Colin Montgomerie’s European team took control of the matches when the U. S. team could only manage 1/2 point out of a possible 6 points in Session #3. Even though the Americans came back to win 7 of the 12 points in the final singles session the deficit proved to be too great to overcome. Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, and Martin Kaymer all played superbly and led the Europeans in victory.
Speaking of youngster Rory McIlroy, he won in spectacular fashion for the first time on the PGA Tour posting a unbelievable 62 in the final round to capture the Wells Fargo Championship. The tournament was held at Quail Hollow and it is not a golf course that easily yields -10 under par rounds to a then 20 year old golfer. He is now officially past being a young player to watch. He is one of the elite players in the world. Major Championships should not be uncommon in his immediate future.
Thanks but no thanks, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and Martin Kaymer have all earned PGA membership but due to the extensive travel necessary will continue to play full time on the European Tour. This greatly helps with sponsors for tournaments in Europe and should only strengthen that tour in the future.
The TV contract for the PGA Tour expires during 2011. With these marquee European players foregoing PGA Tour membership, Commissioner Tim Finchem has had to ask his #1 Television draw, Tiger Woods, to add some tournaments to his schedule for early 2011. The tour needs a boost in ratings early in the season to keep the TV revenue flowing into the PGA treasury. I hope Tiger isn’t too busy playing with his kids to play a couple of extra rounds for the tour. I would hate to think that the everyday run of the mill professional tour player might have to take a pay cut in 2011 and beyond.