2011 Review

Alex Jenkins turns his attention to the highlights – and a couple of the lowlights – that made professional golf such compelling viewing last year

Tournament of the Year

Tournament of the Year: The Masters
Make no mistake, 2011 was a fabulous year of professional golf. Of local interest, the UBS Hong Kong Open once again provided the kind of drama that most European Tour events can only dream about, but it's to the majors where we must turn our attention in this particular category. The US Open, which saw Rory McIlroy completely outplay his peers at a rain-softened Congressional was memorable, as was the US PGA Championship, where rookie Keegan Bradley outlasted the equally obscure Jason Dufner at a supremely unyielding Atlanta Athletic Club. The Open at Royal St George's provided an enthralling week of entertainment, with crowd favourite Darren Clarke putting on a veritable clinic of links golf to hold off the American challenge of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, but for sheer excitement and intrigue nothing in 2011 came close to the Masters, where both chaos and magnificence reigned in equal measure. McIlroy's collapse down the closing stretch, combined with the brilliance of Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day and eventual winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa – who birdied the final four holes to scoop his maiden Green Jacket – made for quite breathtaking viewing. And let's not forget Tiger Woods. The four-time Masters champion put in a scintillating final-day cameo to really put the cat – or in this case, the Tiger – among the pigeons. There was a time, not so long ago, when the likes of Zach Johnson were winning the Masters through conservative play and a hot putter. Not anymore. The 2011 edition of this fabled event saw Augusta produce the kind of play the public expects – attacking golf, a bucket-load of birdies and just the right amount of misery and delight to keep us in Hong Kong glued to the action despite the horrendous broadcast times. Last year's Masters Tournament was epic.

Winner: Masters Tournament
Notables: US Open, Open Championship, US PGA Championship, UBS Hong Kong Open