I don’t often put pen to paper, maybe that’s something I’ll do more of in 2020. However, when I do put pen to paper, why not just repeat what every other sports, entertainment and pop culture brand in the world is doing? Thus, I give you the best and worst of the decade from the world’s most addictive game with a ball and stick.
Tournament of the Decade – 2019 Masters
No argument in this category. If you love Tiger then you get it already and if you’re still a hater holding on to one missed nine iron from 2009, let it go already. The 2019 Masters was this generations ’86 Masters and without a doubt will go down as the most historically significant major of the decade. If the ’97 Masters was Woods “change the world” moment and the 2000 US Open was his greatest performance (it was the greatest performance by anyone ever), then the 2019 Masters might be his most significant performance. The win that reformed his legacy and the green jacket that symbolizes the greatest comeback in the history of sports.
Player of the Decade – Rory McIlroy
After a previous decade where the best player in the world was also the most dominant in history in Tiger Woods, the 2010’s delivered a much blurrier picture. It also posed the question; how do we replace Tiger? The answer would be we wouldn’t have to. When the decade began it looked like Rory McIlroy would be the clear-cut heir apparent and answer to the big question of who replaces Tiger. However, as we neared the middle of the decade the story line was less clear. We saw the emergence of Jordan Spieth, the maturing of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka’s meteoric rise and finally the resurrection of Tiger Woods which would suggest that the second half of this decade has created a healthy debate. Despite the perceived competition, when you look at the decade as a whole and when you consider his current form may set him up to be the player of the next decade, there is no debate that Rory McIlroy is the player of the decade. The proof is in the numbers, four major wins, 25 worldwide wins, 95 weeks at number one, two Fed Ex Cup victories, and three Race to Dubai titles. No other players resume in the past decade is even close to Rory’s.
Canadian Golfer Of The Decade – Brooke Henderson
What Brooke Henderson has achieved in this decade deserves its own category. At the age of 22, she is already the most winningest Canadian professional golfer in history. She has surpassed the legends of the game in just five full-time seasons on the LPGA Tour. Henderson is clearly the Canadian golfer of the decade. Her performance in Regina in 2018 at the CP Women’s Open is also a no brainer as Canadian golf performance of the decade.
As the face of the sport in our country and as the face of the National Championship, she accomplished what hadn’t happened in 45 years in the ladies game and hasn’t happened in 65 years in the men’s game which is a Canadian winning their National Championship on Canadian soil. If you throw away all the accomplishments and put all the records aside, what makes Brooke special is her ability to rise to the occasion when the moment means the most. She simply wants the rock, with no time left on the clock.
Disappointment of The Decade – Jordan Spieth
Ok, let the angry tweets begin! Before everyone loses their Christmas Turkey, hear me out.
I know Spieth has an impressive resume that includes being the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, 2015 Player of The Year, 2015 FedEx Cup Champion, 2015/17 Vardon Trophy and the 2015/17 Byron Nelson Award. In 2015, Spieth was one stroke shy of three majors in a row by the age of 24 which would have made him the second youngest player in history to win three different majors (Nicklaus is the youngest). Spieth was on a historic record setting pace, even after the collapse on the back nine at Augusta in 2016 where he lead by five shots and lost.
However, what has happened to the “Golden Child” since? Fast forward to the end of the decade and he hasn’t won since the 2017 Open and he currently resides as the world’s 44th ranked player. He missed the Presidents Cup Team in 2019 and was nowhere even close on captain Woods’ radar for a selection. Jordan is a classic case of being the victim of his own success, a player that aligned his name in the record books with the likes of Woods and Nicklaus and teasing the golf universe that a generational player had arrived. However, he ended the decade with his name aligned his with the likes of Victor Perez who is currently the world’s 45th ranked player instead Woods and Nicklaus.
Shot of Decade – Tie between 2010 Masters Phil Mickelson and 2012 Masters Bubba Watson.
I don’t care that Mickelson missed the putt, the approach from the pine straw on 13th at Amen corner was classic Phil and was the first use of the term “Swashbuckling” this decade. I also don’t care that it’s easier for a lefty to hook a ball from 144 yards than it is for a righty to cut it. If you go stand in the trees on the right side of the 10th hole at Augusta and put your approach on the green with the world watching in a playoff for the green jacket, then maybe then you can call me.
Dual of the Decade – 2016 Open Championship Henrik Stenson vs Phil Mickelson
Royal Troon for the 2016 Open was lit on fire by Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson.
Stenson 20-under, Mickelson 17-under, a two-man race for four days. Mickelson with a 62 and a half on Saturday, only to be surpassed by Stenson’s final round 63 to Mickelson’s bogey free 65. They were 11 shots clear of third place and it might be the greatest dual ever. It might also be the most exciting tournament of the decade. In the words of Bob Weeks, “If birdies are exciting and slower greens are allowing players to make more birdies. Why are we always screaming for harder courses and faster greens?”
Villain of the Decade – Patrick Reed
Just when you thought Ian Poulter had it locked up, one more trip to the sand box with his Tonka Truck and Reed with the steal.
With that we will close out the decade, it was a decade of excitement, continued globalization of the sport, and continued movement towards youth with power. However, for me, regardless of the obvious trends in the game, I will remember the decade for two words “redemption” and “comeback”.
Agree, Disagree or want to add a category ……hit me up at @ZeeManGolf
Nice article Mark.