The week that wason December 6, 2010
What a week – there was hardly a moment for golf fans to catch their breath, and if the 2011 season can pick up from where 2010 season left off, we are in for a rollercoaster ride.
Ladies first – Sweden’s Maria Hjorth won the season-ending LPGA Championship by a single shot, and Taiwan’s Yani Tseng was confirmed as the LPGA’s Player of the Year. Na Yeon Choi of South Korea topped the Tour’s moneylist and took the Vare Trophy for the lowest stroke average, and it would seem that the Asian ladies are showing their male counterparts how it is done. No one would bet against the army of talented women from Korea and Taiwan again dominating the LPGA next year.
In Australia Geoff Ogilvy won the Australian Open – only his second victory in his home country. (The former US Open champion had previously won the 2008 Australian PGA title.) Dare we wonder if Ogilvy demanded an appearance fee to compete Downunder?
Of course all eyes were on the transcontinental battle between Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood, and if there was a major upset, it was the fact that Woods blew a four-shot lead and was beaten in a playoff by current US Open champion Graeme McDowell. What inspired putting by the Irishman! First he holed a monster putt to force the playoff, then an even longer effort to deny Woods. Much was made of the possibility of Woods winning the Chevron, the event he hosts, in which case Lee Westwood would have had to finish at least second in the Nedbank Golf Challenge to retain his position at the top of the world rankings. It was all academic – Westwood never looked like faltering on his way to an emphatic victory in Sun City, and Woods now has to live with the fact that he has not been able to add any silverware to his impressive collection this year. It must be said that if Woods was hugely disappointed and more than a little frustrated, he masked his feelings well, and the former number one was most gracious in defeat.
Of course we are a little biased when it comes to the Nedbank tournament (where Woods competed in 1998 and was beaten in a playoff by Nick Price), and it never escaped our notice that the spectators at Tiger’s tournament seemed a little thin on the ground compared to the 40,000-plus fans that were on hand to cheer home Lee Westwood at the Gary Player Country Club. Talking of being gracious in defeat, runner-up Tim Clark was effusive in his praise for Westwood, who dominated proceedings in picking up the biggest cheque of his career. The money aside (all $1.25 million of it), Westwood sat in the player’s locker room after his win hugging the crystal trophy and looking at the oversized cheque. When Antonie Els, the director of golf in Sun City, wanted to lock away the trophy (the winner takes home a smaller replica of the original Waterford crystal ball), Westwood asked if he could just sit and look at it a little longer. While there, “Westie’ tweeted that he was “off the wagon” and decided to celebrate with a beer or two, and who can hold that against him?
While Westwood enjoys a six-week break, he told us that he will be setting new goals for 2011, which includes finally getting that Major monkey off his back. Colin Montgomerie was for many years the best player never to have won a Major, and later that dubious title could arguably have been given to Sergio Garcia. Now there is no argument – Westwood is undoubtedly the world’s number one, and his priority must be to don the fabled green jacket at Augusta National come April. But a lot is going to happen before then, and we will be keeping you posted.