Do you get the feeling that 2010 will go down as a transitional year on the PGA Tour, one during which we left the Tiger Woods era and entered a new phase, with new central characters? Yes, Masters champion Phil Mickelson plays on, but we think this year will be better remembered for the emergence of players such as Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy. The season-ending awards below reflect this new age on Tour.
Gene Sarazen Medal for Best Shot
Phil Mickelson (right), for his second shot at the par-5 13th hole on Sunday at Augusta National. Sitting in pine straw behind two trees, Mickelson blistered a six-iron 207 yards to within four feet of the hole. Naysayers maintain that Phil's real signature shot was the missed eagle putt after the six-iron, but c'mon, who's wearing the green jacket?
Billy Joe Patton Plaque for Dumbest Shot
Bubba Watson, for blowing a chance to win the PGA Championship on the final playoff hole by recklessly trying to reach the green from 210 yards and a terrible lie in the rough with a six-iron. Predictably, Watson dumped his ball into a water hazard and made a double bogey, allowing Martin Kaymer to win with a two-putt bogey.
Craig Stadler Bonehead Move Award
Really, how could Dustin Johnson (below, right) not know he was in a bunker on the 72nd hole of the PGA? Officials had taken pains to alert the players that all the sand at Whistling Straits was a hazard. Nevertheless, when Johnson blew his tee shot 25 yards right into fan-trampled sand, Johnson grounded his club several times, drawing a two-shot penalty that cost him a spot in the playoff. We'll be talking about that gaffe until Johnson wins a major—in other words, until next April.
Eddie Haskell Wreath for Weasel Worthiness
Mickelson, for immediately jumping to Jim Furyk's defense when Furyk overslept for the pro-am and was disqualified from the Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. While making the case for Furyk, Mickelson failed to mention that the rule is said to have been originally enacted to combat Mickelson's habit of blowing off pro-ams and dubbed the Mickelson Rule by Tour officials.
Major Curse Medal
What ever happened to last year's winners of the majors? Angel Cabrera, Masters; Lucas Glover, U.S. Open; Stewart Cink, British Open; and Y.E. Yang (right), PGA, combined for zero wins in 2010 and only 10 top 10s, one fewer than Matt Kuchar had on his own. In 16 major appearances the Not-So-Fab Four missed six cuts and had an average finish of 36th in the tournaments in which they were around for the weekend.
Golden Fleece Award
The USGA, for banning square grooves, which has had no negative effect whatsoever on the PGA Tour. In fact, in many cases the players may have done better with V-grooves. Consider: The player ranked 10th in scrambling this year has gotten up and down 64.03% of the time compared with 64.08% in '09; and 64 players got up and down at least 60% of the time, while only 60 did so in '09. Proximity to the hole after iron shots—even from the rough—also improved in 2010. The player ranked 50th in greens in reg from somewhere other than the fairway improved to 54.55% from 52.70% in '09, while the 20th-ranked player in sand saves improved to 58.14% from 57.14% in '09.
GOLF.COM • SIGOLFNATION.COM
DAVID CANNON/GETTY IMAGES (MICKELSON)
JOHN BIEVER (JOHNSON)
JOHN BIEVER (YANG)
DAVID WALBERG (WEDGE)