An unusual PGA Tour season limps to the finish
I know — for most of you, the 2010 golf season ended the moment Hunter Mahan conceded in the final Ryder Cup match. But someone forgot to tell the PGA Tour, which continued to grind through its largely ignored Fall Series, and the European PGA Tour, which has yet to reach the finish line. Whatever the case, it was a strange season on Tour. Jim Furyk won the FedExCup and led the circuit in wins, with three — but missed the cut in two of the four majors; Matt Kuchar won the money title despite winning only once; American golfers ceded center stage to their international counterparts, losing the Ryder Cup and three of the four majors; Lee Westwood supplanted Tiger Woods as the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings despite winning only once, at the star-deprived St. Jude; and Tiger failed to win anywhere and needed a Captain's Pick to sneak his way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
There were some highlights, and here are the moments I'll remember:
Phil Mickelson’s epic 6-iron second shot to four feet on the par-5 13th on the last day of the Masters was the kind of hero shot that only he and Tiger would even attempt. His fans everywhere had to be watching through laced fingers. Instead of crushing their dreams, though, Lefty ripped the shot of his life. A couple of hours later, Mickelson’s emotional win, with cancer-stricken wife Amy standing greenside, was enough to melt the heart of the most hardened Phil hater.
Stuart Appleby, trying to regain exempt status, birdied the 72nd hole at the Greenbrier Classic for a tournament-clinching 59.
Dustin Johnson's everyman travails at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, including his epic mistake on the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits, belied his stature as the most freakishly talented player on Tour right now and endeared him to fans who love a tragic hero. Put DJ on the short list of favorites at next year's majors.
The U.S. team nearly completed another stunning comeback at the Ryder Cup. The fact that the Americans got the final match to mean something was a feat in itself. And I take back everything bad I ever said about Rickie Fowler, whose birdie binge to eke out a half point in his singles match was one of the most impressive performances I've ever seen.
So, the 2010 season is in the books, but don't despair — we're only a couple of silly season events and a Q-school away from another one.