It's been a wonderful year, especially if you're a European golf fan.
Not only did Europe retain the Ryder Cup over a dramatic four days at Celtic Manor, but Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer won major championships and Lee Westwood replaced Tiger Woods as world number one.
Sky Sports expert Mark Roe has been following the highs and the lows all season long and as the end of the year approaches, we asked him to pick out his best bits from the golfing world in 2010.
Player of the Year - Graeme McDowell
I think McDowell has undoubtedly been the player of 2010; it was pretty much a toss of a coin between him and Martin Kaymer, but I have settled on the Irishman. He won the US Open, which is second only to The Open in the ranking system I have in my head, and he played such an important role at the Ryder Cup when he was under the most pressure of all. However, what swung it was his performance at the Chevron Challenge when he went to head-to-head with a rejuvenated Tiger Woods and beat him. The putts he holed on the 72nd hole and the play-off hole were two of the best shots of the year and he overcame a field stacked with great players, including the greatest player in the world. Of course, Kaymer won the Race to Dubai, the USPGA Championship and three other tournaments, but I felt McDowell's final win swung things in his favour. That was the icing on the cake.
It has also been a great season for Lee Westwood, winning the St Jude Classic and the Nedbank Challenge, finishing second at the Masters and The Open and taking over the world number one spot from Woods. It was a brilliant 2010 for him and he has been very consistent over the last two years, but my player of the year would be McDowell because, like Kaymer, he completed the job at a major championship.
Rookie of the Year - Matteo Manassero
Matteo Manassero has been brilliant this year. In the few starts he had he played some wonderful golf to get his card and then he capped it off with a victory at the Castello Masters. He nearly did it again at the Hong Kong Open, so he has to be the rookie of the year. The future is very, very bright for the young Italian.
I'll also mention Rhys Davies who has been incredibly consistent on the European Tour and produced some incredible performances in the early part of the season. He was perhaps unlucky that the tournaments he played in weren't highly ranked or else he might have made the Ryder Cup team. His time will come.
The PGA Tour awarded their Rookie of the Year award to Rickie Fowler, but I think that was the wrong decision. In my opinion, it should definitely have gone to Rory McIlroy for the simple reason that he won a tournament. At Quail Hollow he produced one of the best final rounds of the year with a 62 to win and that should have earned him the award. He'd already established himself as a world star before he'd even stepped onto the PGA Tour - and that's why I've chosen Manassero - but he confirmed himself as a world-class player this year.
Shot of the Year - Martin Kaymer / Graeme McDowell
The Shot of the Year has to be one that is made under the most extreme pressure and Kaymer and McDowell both fulfilled that criteria. I'm torn between McDowell's putt at 16 on the final day of the Ryder Cup and Kaymer's putt on the 72nd hole of the USPGA Championship.
McDowell was being watched by millions around the world and his putt was being willed in by the thousands of spectators gathered at Celtic Manor. When the hopes of the European team are hanging on you, there's more pressure than normal and it was an amazing putt. After his US Open win and his previous win at Celtic Manor, he was probably the most confident man on the planet at that moment. Not very many players would have holed it.
Kaymer's putt on the final hole at Whistling Straits was one that he simply had to hole to have a chance of making the play-off. He rattled it straight in the back and I thought it was one of the best moments of the year. Once again, I'm left splitting hairs between McDowell and Kaymer and I'm not willing to choose. Shot of the Year goes to both of them.
Performance of the Year - Roland Thatcher IV
Roland Churchill Thatcher IV went into the final event of the year on the PGA Tour, the Children's Miracle Network Classic, knowing he needed to win or finish second to get his Tour card for 2011. He led the tournament by four shots going into the final day, but he saw that advantage fall apart with three bogeys on the back nine. He arrived on the 72nd hole needing two putts to finish solo second and keep his card and knocked the first one five foot past. He had to hole his final putt through the shadows of the back of the green to an idiotic flag position that a PGA Tour official had set. The fact he achieved it made it the individual performance of the year - and it was also one of the top five shots of the year. In the words of Nick Faldo and the American commentators: "Wow!"
I enjoyed covering the PGA Tour all year for Sky Sports and Rocco Mediate's incredible performance in the Frys.com Open also deserves a mention. He climbed from 189th in the ranking to retain his card, but that was topped a couple of weeks later by Thatcher - who is my new hero.
Tournament of the Year - The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup was a brilliant spectacle of golf and for everybody watching around the world, I'm sure it was a highlight of the year. It had everything you wanted and when it's played in that spirit there's nothing better. The rain delays caused all sorts of drama and the organisers made a wonderful decision to restructure the format and make sure the event was completed on the Monday. That was a brave decision and it worked magnificently to help create one of the greatest ever editions of a wonderful tournament.
One to watch in 2011 - Gary Boyd
You can't exactly say he's under the radar, but I'm convinced he will win a championship next year. He lost the Czech Open to Peter Hanson in a play-off and he finished 50th on the Order of Merit. I've really rated him every time I've seen him play. I like his demeanour on the course, I think his game stands up to pressure and I like his attitude; his temperament sets him apart from the rest. He has a very solid all-round game and I wouldn't pick out any department where he is particularly strong - perhaps that's what makes him so impressive. He's definitely one to watch next year.
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Michael Farrell says...
who does mark think is the best irish golfer of all time
Posted 15:40 12th January 2011
Bill Rogers says...
I always read and listen to the comments Mark makes as he is always 100% accurate. Merry christmas to all the sky sports commentators. They do a great job
Posted 08:09 21st December 2010
Joe Johnston says...
Hi Mark, great article and may i just say,i too have thoroughly enjoyed watching the PGA tour coverage this year on Sky Sports, and I am really looking forward to 2011 to see Tiger back to his best and winning week in week out,hopefully! I think you are spot on giving Player of the Year to G-Mac. Chevron was really the cherry on top of the iced-cake! I was glued to the secreen for the whole duration of the tournament, and although i would have loved Tiger to win, I had to take my hat off to Graeme,his bogey on 17 is the best bogey i have ever seen! Keep up the good work, I can't wait for 2011!
Posted 16:52 16th December 2010
James English says...
Hi Mark, I agree with what you've said above but also for me I think a mention should be given to Miguel Angel Jiminez, he is a delight to the game, with 3 wins this year, and also the passion he brought to the Ryder Cup, he really brightens up the game of Golf for those who say it is a boring game. Also his shot on the famous road hole 17th at St. Andrews is one of the most amazing things I have seen, to be able to think outside the box like that is incredible. Hoepfully a future Ryder Cup captain(will definitely be vice captain, if not playing, on Jose Maria Olazabals team)
Posted 15:03 16th December 2010
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