As the year winds to its close, we're taking one last look back at the best of 2010. Over the next week, we'll consider the greatest moments of the 2010 season, and now we bring you the best tournaments of 2010. Which events were the best of the year?
1.) The Ryder Cup: It had everything you want in a sporting event; weather, controversy and some seriously good golf. Also, it's rare that these team events come down to the final match, but thanks to some impressive play by the Americans in the singles matches, including a must-have finish by Rickie Fowler, a captain's pick by Corey Pavin, who birdied his final four holes, including a must-make on 18 to halve his match with Edoardo Molinari, it was on to just two men. That match basically ended when the man of this season, Graeme McDowell, rolled in a birdie putt on the 16th, forcing Hunter Mahan to basically hole a chip on the 17th hole, that he flubbed, and sent the Europeans into a very respectable frenzy. It was exactly why this event is so anticipated, and this season, it lived up to all the hype, plus a little more.
2.) The Chevron World Challenge: Normally silly season events don't make this list, but you couldn't take your eyes off a tournament in 2010 when Tiger Woods actually had a chance to win. A four-shot lead heading into Sunday, it seemed Woods had this event wrapped up like he always did, but poor play on the front, and a double-bogey on the back let Graeme McDowell back in the door. After McDowell made bogey on 17, Tiger and the Northern Irishman were tied going into the final hole, and Woods hit a shot we are used to seeing from him pre-2010. He started walking after it, and as the ball nestled two feet from the hole, it seemed like another Tiger finish we'd remember for years. McDowell wouldn't be denied however, rolling in his 18-footer as Steve Williams famously was taking his caddie bib off in anticipation of a winning handshake, and then made the same exact putt in the playoff to beat Tiger at his own game.
3.) The PGA Championship: As for golf events we will still talk about in 2025, the PGA Championship is probably one of the few that make the list, and not because of who won. Like Jean Van de Velde in '99 (Reminder, Paul Lawrie actually won that British Open), the thing people will remember is Dustin Johnson and BunkerGate. Standing on the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead, Johnson pushed his drive right of the fairway, into what looked like some sort of sand/rough mix. He yanked his second shot left of the green, hit a beautiful pitch out of deep rough but couldn't convert the eight-footer for par that would have won him his first major championship ... or so we thought. The waste area was deemed a bunker, Johnson was given a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club, and Martin Kaymer was the eventual champion in a playoff over Bubba Watson.
4.) The Quail Hollow Championship: It might not have been the finish of the first three events, but it was as good a tournament as we had all season in terms of golf played. Rory McIlroy, who barely made the cut on Friday, closed with rounds of 66-62, with the final round breaking the course record and giving him his first PGA Tour win. McIlroy beat Phil Mickelson by four shots with his incredible play on the weekend, and became the youngest PGA Tour winner since Tiger Woods in 1996.
5.) The Masters: It might be hard to remember a year ago at this time, but as previews were rolling out, one name came up well before anyone else; that was Phil Mickelson, who was coming off an incredible finish to his 2009. But Lefty didn't get much done early in the 2010 season, and it looked like another hyped start and another letdown for Phil. That was, until Augusta National, where it seems Mickelson always finds his game. Phil closed with a 5-under 67 on Sunday to beat Lee Westwood by three shots as both Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods were trying to charge up the leaderboard, and added one of the most incredible shots (watch it here) we've ever seen, when he picked a 6-iron off the pinestraw on the 13th.
6.) Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open: You won't remember anything about this tournament in a year, if you even do at this point, but you will remember a guy named Jonathan Byrd making a hole-in-one during a playoff to win an event for ages. Byrd, playing against Martin Laird and Cameron Percy, stood on the 17th tee in near darkness, and as the first one to tee off, hit his shot about as perfect as they come. It landed short, rolled directly into the cup, and the game was over.
7.) The Greenbrier Classic: Ehh, not really that exciting on The Old White course, except that Stuart Appleby shot a final round 59 to win the event by a shot over Jeff Overton. Appleby was one of two PGA Tour players to fire a 59 this season, but his came in the final round, and earned him his ninth PGA Tour victory of his career.
8.) The St. Jude Classic: One of the biggest knocks on Lee Westwood's career is that he can't win on the PGA Tour, and that theme would have held true this season if not for Robert Garrigus doing his best Van de Velde on the final hole of TPC Southwind. Standing on the 72nd hole with a three-shot lead, Garrigus slapped it around in seven shots, carding a triple-bogey, and forcing a playoff with himself, Westwood, and Robert Karlsson. It wasn't all a choke job by Garrigus, with Westwood finishing the playoff off with a six footer for birdie, that dropped, and earned him his second PGA Tour victory of his career.
9.) Waste Management Open: In Scottsdale, Hunter Mahan had struggled the first two days, making the cut by two shots, and didn't look like this tournament would break his three year winless streak. But then came the weekend, where Mahan posted consecutive rounds of 65 to beat Rickie Fowler by a single shot. His Sunday 65 included an eagle-birdie-par-birdie run from holes 13-16 and was the catalyst to a solid season by Mahan.
10.) The Tour Championship: Why? Because $10 million is $10 million, and Jim Furyk had to get up-and-down from a bunker on his last hole to win the eight figure check. He hit one of the best shots of the year, tapped it in for a par, and left a lot richer than you and I. The FedEx Cup has waited for moments like this, when money even millionaires jitter at is on the line, and that's what the Tour Championship brought us.