After a historic campaign in 2010, will European players continue their dominance in 2011? GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard and associate editor Jon Levy weigh in.
By REX HOGGARD
What else would you expect from the ’27 Yankees of the modern golf age?
Those who dismiss Europe’s 2010 as a “one off” byproduct of Tiger Woods’ personal and professional slide and Phil Mickelson’s fade from the post-Masters spotlight missed the significance, if not the depth, of the continent’s card last year.
Two Grand Slam stops went to Europe; Lee Westwood finally overtook Woods atop the Official World Golf Ranking, earning more points in 2010 than anyone else; Graeme McDowell won a major, a major match on Monday in Wales and a major duel with Woods at the Chevron World Challenge.
Rory McIlroy took the Quail Hollow Championship, and inexplicably not the Tour’s top rookie award, with the round of the year on Sunday and Luke Donald had more worldwide top-10 finishes (14) than some players had starts.
Justin Rose won twice on Tour and Paul Casey climbed to fifth in the world ranking. Neither player earned a spot on the victorious Ryder Cup team.
That’s a “murderer’s row” by any measure.
By JON LEVY
But, enter a downtrodden 2010 season from Tiger Woods, a frumpy post-Masters effort from Phil Mickelson, close finishes in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship that ended in favor of Europeans, and, of course, Europe’s reclamation of the Ryder Cup and all of sudden there it is: this premature idea that European players are running the world.
No. The Europeans will not continue to dominate the game because they aren’t dominating golf as it is.
No one continent is at the moment, for that matter. The power balance is as spread out now as it ever has been.
Perhaps, with another two or three years of multiple major wins, a high winning percentage on the PGA Tour and a continued, somewhat permanent presence in the top 10 of the world rankings, then maybe it’s time to figure out whether Europeans are the dominating force in golf. But not now.
We’ve become a society of living in the now, as Ben Crane put it best, but these things take time.
Great 2010? Yes. Majority of players in the top 10 to start 2011, including the world’s No. 1 player? Yes.
But continue to dominate the sport? Patience, dear golfing world. Patience.