The 2012 major season is now over. I am always a little sad when it is done because it means that summer only has a few more weeks before fall and then it seems that winter comes sooner than I feel it should. I live in California, so we don’t really have a winter per se, but golf in the summer months is way better than in the winter months. I digress; I do look forward to the Ryder Cup, so there is still some excitement left for me.
This year’s majors really delivered some first-rate drama. Bubba in a playoff, Webb Simpson from behind, Ernie returning to the winner’s circle in the majors, and concluded by a runaway victory for Rory. The season had some great story lines.
At Augusta, Tiger had just come off a very comfortable win at Arnie’s house and was the talk of golf leading up to the event. I think very few people could have predicted a Watson victory, not that Bubba wasn’t a favorite but he hadn’t proven himself a regular contender in majors. I thought when the final round started that Phil Mickelson was the guy to beat. He was a stroke behind Hanson, but was more experienced in playing in the final group and he had come off of that wonderful win at Pebble Beach. If you give Phil a par on the 4th hole, he would have shot 69 and been at -11 which would have won the tournament. Of course who knows if he would have fought as he did without making the triple.
Watson did many interviews after the win and I thought presented himself extremely well and was a new character that folks who did not know about golf would like. He is not traditional in the sense of the other 3 major winners and plays with a flair all his own. In my opinion golf needs more characters, guys like Chi Chi Rodriguez, golfers don’t need a sword dance after making a birdie, but I know as a young player myself I enjoyed watch Chi Chi roll in a birdie so I could watch him dance. I would like to see more characters in the game.
The US Open was a bit of a free for all. As the final round started I thought that Furyk was going to be the steadiest of the remaining players and bring home the win. Graeme McDowell certainly could not be ignored, but for most of the final round I thought it was Furyk’s tournament. I think when Webb reached +1 and had passed through 15 that was the first time that I thought that Furyk was in trouble. Webb is a good player and certainly proved that he could win on the PGA Tour, but I am forced to admit I did not see him as a major winner just yet. He may very well win another, and I think he will have a nice career, but I would be surprised to see him win 3 or more majors. I could see one more, but he will need to prove to me that has more staying power before I get all bought in.
The Open Championship looked for all intensive purposes as though it was going to be a christening for Adam Scott. All that is missing in Scott’s career is a major victory. He has a Players, a World Golf Championship, a number of PGA Tour wins, so a major would have fit right in. It was very difficult to watch him over the closing holes. He just kept making bogeys and eventually threw the hole thing away. I think Ernie gets a nice close to his career, sure you might say he can definitely win again, but the odds are against him. Each year that goes by it will be getting tougher and tougher on him and I think it will be incredibly tough for him to win again. Maybe Augusta, but I think not.
I am hopeful that Adam can put aside his failure to close the deal and try and put it all together again. I think he could easily win 1 and maybe even 2 majors. I hope that this loss does not define him, but drives him to play well and finally get that win.
Lastly and certainly not least is the heir apparent Rory McIlroy. His final round was sublime, a clinic on how to play in tough conditions. That was a Tiger Woods circa 2000 type victory. Speaking of Tiger he was again lurking, but his moving day performance once again was very poor. I actually think Tiger was very lucky that play got called on Saturday because that round was going south in a hurry. He got to come back and restart in much better conditions and turn a possible 78 into a 74. Still even with that Rory was running away and hiding. It would have been very exciting to see how Rory reacted if Tiger had been closer, say where Poulter was, and even better if he were in the same group doing that. To see if what everyone is saying that the younger players don’t fear Tiger is true. I am not sure I believe that yet, if only because no one has really been tested yet. We’ll have to wait until next year to see now.
In a conclusion, there are some other thoughts rumbling around, like what happened to Luke Donald? Or Westwood was a factor at Augusta, and near the top at the US Open, but not really a factor in any other major, what does he need to do to turn it around. Steve Stricker’s performance in the majors was not very good as well.
There are a number questions that bang around in my head. What sticks out to you in this year’s majors?
Photo credits: © Ron Chenoy.