As the lights go down on 2011, there's still a little bit of time left to shine a spotlight on the golf world so the memorable events of this past year can be given their due one last time. It's a time for reflection right before we all look ahead to the 2012 PGA Tour season and what madness it will more than likely bring over a 12 month period. Most years - no matter what I'm writing about - I like to take the time to do a lot of research so that I don't miss anything important that happened throughout the year. But, this recap is going to be a little different. I'll be handing out random awards and recounting different tournaments or moments all from memory. The best memories don't need to be researched... they get implanted in your brain never to escape again because they were that impactful.
All of that is the say that if a few things here or there seem a bit off or without acute detail, it's because this isn't intended to be an encyclopedia of the 2011 golf season. It's a snap shot of what impressed me and found a small corner of my brain to occupy this year. Call it Occupy Tony's Golf Brain if you will... but let's get started.
Player of the Year Award: Luke Donald
No question here. He may not have won a major in 2011, but he seemed to have won everything else. He was the World No. 1 golfer, topped the money list on the PGA and European Tour and left 2011 with a pair of victories. If you looked back through my picks throughout the year, you'll find Donald's name in the Top 10 quite a bit. I expect an even bigger year in 2012.
Where Did You Go? Award: Anthony Kim, Phil Mickelson
Mickelson actually won in 2011, but he went missing for awhile after The Master's for reasons I believe to be injury related. Kim couldn't stay on the golf course as he battled back from a 2010 injury and simply couldn't make an impact on the golf course this year. After seeing Kim so fired up at the last Ryder Cup, it was disappointing for him to be pretty much nonexistent this year. Here's hoping he can get back to where he was... same for Phil.
I Thought That Was Going To Be A Really Big Deal Award: Rory Sabatini/Golf Media
My memory is telling me Sabatini got suspended for a couple weeks for verbally berating someone while on the course. I don't fully recall who it was, but what I do remember is that the golf media got all puffy chested and "holier than thou" about it, taking a hard stance against Sabatini's actions. Their plea was that major sanctions would come down upon him, but that never happened. Quite the mystery!
Young Gun Award: Keegan Bradley
Just because Tiger Woods played well at the Presidents Cup doesn't mean that Bradley didn't deserve that spot over him. Bradley was great in 2011 and even managed to win the PGA Championship. It was the only major he played in, making it even more remarkable that he won it. Big things in his future, I see.
Comeback Player of the Year Award: Tiger Woods
The PGA Tour didn't think anyone was worthy of getting the CBPOTY in 2011, but the way Woods was able to finish out 2011 makes me believe he should have that trophy sitting next to his major championship trophies.... or sitting in his garage which is most likely where it would end up. This isn't to say that Woods is back, but seeing any kind of promise out of Woods is great and he clinched the Presidents Cup for the USA this year. That has to mean something.... and not just to PGA Tour ratings.
Major Championship of the Year Award: The Masters
A tradition unlike any other... and this year was no exception. Charl Schwartzel was able to make the name "Charl" a favorite name in my house after my fiance watched The Masters with me this year. From that point forward, anytime golf was on - and that was often - she asked where Charl was. The fact that he went on such a birdie tear to close out and win the tournament just made it even better.
Not every moment or every golfer made this list because I didn't want this end up being a 9k word column that you would never get through, so I'll just leave you with the kind of random stream of thought you've come to know well over here on the HurricaneGolf.com blog....
...Rory McIlroy winning then tweeting a photo of himself chugging Jager... Steve Stricker's neck... John Daly's solid tweets and poor compsure on the golf course... Steve Elkington dominating the Internet like only Elk can... Jason Sobel trying to be too funny on Twitter and rarely succeeding... Steve Williams being a sympathetic figure then a racist then hated then just confusing everyone who has ever heard of him... Adam Scott... my fiance wanting to leave me for Adam Scott... me now hating Adam Scott and wishing I had an Australian accent... Tiger folding in half at The PLAYERS... David Fehrety's awesome TV show... not being able to stand the hosts on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, but gutting through it anyway... and cut!
I would like to thank all of you readers out there for supporting this blog in 2011 and would be remiss if I didn't remind you to click some of the links above or to your left and go find yourself some nice new - discounted! - brand-name golf clubs and accessories from our site. Let Hurricane Golf cure your slice or at least make you look good while you slice in 2012. We're happy to help with both.
Happy New Year.