The Champions of 2011
If you had a bet on who would win each of the four majors in 2011, I would hazard a guess that your choices wouldn’t include the likes of Keegan Bradley or Darren Clarke. After losing a £5 bet that Martin Kaymer would win the Masters, I realised that golf is far too unpredictable to call. Even though Tiger Woods was nowhere to be seen on the leader boards this year leaving the field wide open for major chances, few of us could have predicted the outcome that 2011 would bring.
First there was Charles Schwartzel. Most of us will recall the agony that Rory McIlroy went through during that final day at the Masters, but for Schwartzel it was a day to remember for very different reasons. Holding his nerve against Adam Scott and Jason Day who were also in the running gave Schwartzel the tournament at Augusta. Walking away with the green jacket, Schwartzel proved that he was a major contender and played impeccable golf in the closing holes to triumph as a worthy champion.
Next came Rory. Even the most experienced in the game thought that losing the Masters in such painful circumstances could have scarred McIlroy for life. Some thought that he was still a long way from being able to sustain the mental strength that was needed to win a major, claiming he was too young and inexperienced…but they were wrong. As Rory walked away with the title of US Open champion at Congressional on Father’s Day, he proved to be a true sportsman with an extraordinary talent that propelled him into a different league in the game.
Royal St Georges was the place that wrote history for Darren Clarke. There are moments in golf where you really want the other guy to win, but this was not one of them. His cool, calm and collected presence meant that there was no contest for him. There was no dramatic playoff or tension at the final putt, it was simply written in the stars for a man who truly deserved his chance.
Lastly it was Keegan Bradley that took the title at the USPGA Championship after holding his nerve against Jason Dufner in a final playoff. Not many of us had come across Bradley before; however, he played incredible golf when essentially it all relied on whose mental strength was up to the challenge of pulling though. (Incidentally, if you did watch that final round at the USPGA, it’s likely your money would have been on Dufner!).
Watching all four major winners play at the PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda was a heartfelt feeling. All of them deserved to be there, even though you may not have predicted them to be so. With the absence of Tiger, we have seen Northern Ireland triumph in the game, watched the Europeans snatch the Ryder Cup and England’s Luke Donald is currently number one in the world. Will Donald still be in the same position this time next year? Who knows? Will Woods fight back and win a grand slam in 2012? I cannot say. One things for sure though, I will not be betting on the outcome.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 02 November 2011 10:18)