Australians have generally fared well on the golfing tours of the world during 2010. Four golfers won events on the PGA Tour, four on the European Tour (with three of those events doubling as Asian Tour events), one on the Japan Golf Tour, three on the Nationwide Tour, one on the Challenge Tour, one on the LPGA Tour, two on the Ladies European Tour and one on the Futures Tour in the USA.
At home Geoff Ogilvy and Peter Senior won the Australian Open and PGA Championships. Those events doubled as events on the fledgling One Asia Tour while Stuart Appleby completed the Australian Triple Crown with victory at the Australian Masters.
Also at home Kristie Smith broke through for her first win when winning an ALPGA Tour event in Canberra and Karrie Webb continued her domination of the ANZ Ladies Masters an event jointly sanctioned between the ALPG and Ladies European Tours.
The year started with Geoff Ogilvy moving to the world number 9 position with his victory at the SBS Championship in Hawaii but soon after Ogilvy’s position inside the top ten was in jeopardy and by the time the Australian Open came along in December the Victorian had slipped to 43rd in the world. His impressive victory at the Lakes however restored some of his status in the game and when, seven days later, he added a runner-up finish at the Australian PGA Championship he had improved to 23rd position in the world.
It was down on where he had started the year but the encouraging finish augurs well for Ogilvy in 2011.
At year’s end he was not the leading world ranked Australian however. That honour goes to Robert Allenby who despite not winning during all of 2010 finishes the year in exactly the same position he started (21st) courtesy of his consistency throughout his PGA Tour season.
Allenby started the season with a runner-up finish at the Sony Open and when he again finished runner-up at the Players Championship in May it appeared as if he was on the verge of one of his best ever seasons in golf. He had moved to 12th in the world but over the next three months however he suffered illness (flu) and an injury from one of his great pastimes.
While fishing on his boat off the southern coast of Florida just prior to the US Open, Allenby incurred a wrist injury that slowed the momentum he had been building and although he did well enough to make it all the way to the Tour Championship, his year did not produce what might possibly have been.
He suffered a similar injury a few weeks later and it would take until late in the season for him to reproduce the type of form he showed early in the year. Allenby however finished as Australia’s leading world ranked male player and provided he can keep himself injury free in 2011 he could well force his way into the top ten by the end of a season for the first time in his golfing year.
Adam Scott won The Texas Open in San Antonio and in November defeated a strong field to win the Singapore Open to catapult him back to 24th in the world and he finishes the season as Australia’s number two ranked player behind Allenby.
Jason Day broke through for his first win on the PGA Tour when he won the Byron Nelson Championship in his now adopted state of Texas. He went on to make play his first major championship at the Open Championship at St Andrews. He made the cut there and just a few weeks later was right in the firing line at the PGA Championship before finishing 10th.
The 22 year old followed up with top ten finishes at the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship where he finished runner-up to Charley Hoffman after leading into the final day. The finish was good enough however for the Queenslander to play the Tour Championship and eventually finish the year in 38th position in the world ranking ensuring a start at Augusta National for the first time in 2011.
With recent surgery for a sinus condition a success, Jason Day now appears on the verge of the career that many were predicting three years ago. There appears to be no limits on just how far this immensely talented golfer can go.
Stuart Appleby may not have finished inside the top 50 in the world but the manner in which he turned around a dreadful run of form in the previous eighteen months is a great credit to him. His final round of 59 to win the Greenbrier Classic in August goes down as one of the great rounds of the year on the PGA Tour. When he broke through for his first win at the Australian Masters he completed a very satisfying comeback from the near wilderness. He was eventually named as the comeback player of the year by his peers on the PGA Tour.
On the European Tour, Andrew Dodt started the ball rolling for the Australians when he won the Avantha Masters in New Delhi and although he played the event as an Asian Tour player, the co sanctioning of the event would mean that Dodt had secured the rights to play in Europe. He had played well in two Nationwide Tour events in New Zealand and Victoria in the weeks prior and yet another Queenslander was making his mark in professional golf.
A few weeks later Marcus Fraser would win the Ballantines event in Korea which not only secured his position in Europe for the immediate future but would lead to him finishing runner-up on the Asian Tour’s money list.
Richard Green has seldom won on the European Tour but in October he secured his third title when he won the Portugal Masters with a whirlwind final round of 65. Green would finish the European Tour season as the leading Australian, earning more than €1.128 million, finishing 21st in the Race to Dubai and his second best ranking in 15 European Tour seasons.
A few weeks later Adam Scott would win the rich Singapore Open for the third occasion and completed one of Australia’s better European Tour season’s in recent years.
In Japan, Brendan Jones won the jointly sanctioned Asia Pacific Panasonic Open and as a result now enjoys status on both the Asian and Japan Golf Tours. Jones finished 7th on the Japan Tour money list earning more than A$1 million during a season marked with consistency. He was the only Australian to finish inside the top 50 in Japan this season and at the end of 2010 finds himself just four spots short of the top 50 in the world.
The Nationwide Tour would see three Australians winning titles but only one, Steve Bowditch, was able to go on and capitalise by securing one of the PGA Tour cards handed out to the leading 25 players on that tour at season’s end. Ewan Porter and Scott Gardiner also recorded victories but failed to finish inside the top 25.
Daniel Gaunt won an event on the European Challenge Tour and as a result now has European Tour status for 2011.
On the Ladies Tours, Katherine Hull finished the year as the leading Australian on the LPGA Tour, her victory at the Navistar Championship in October securing her second LPGA Tour career title and yet another good season for the Queenslander.
Karrie Webb was winless on the LPGA Tour but she began the year with one of the great rounds in women’s golf in 2010 to win the ANZ Ladies Masters for the 7th occasion. Her final round of 61 equalled her previous best ever in tournament golf and continued her remarkable record at Royal Pines. The event was jointly sanctioned between the Ladies European and Australian Ladies Professional Golf and gave Webb a great start as she headed into 2010 but she recorded one of her worst years on the LPGA Tour.
Karen Lunn would also win on the Ladies European Tour, the 44 year old turning back the clock to yesteryear by winning the Portugal Ladies Open and finishing 22nd on the money list there.
As mentioned earlier Kristie Smith won on the ALPG Tour in Canberra and on the Futures Tour in the USA before joining the Ladies European Tour where she put together a solid rookie season including a runner-up finish in Slovakia. She finished 25th on the money list.
To round off the season however it was another who was turning back the clock that perhaps left an indelible mark on all who were present at Hyatt Regency Coolum on 13th December. That morning, 51 year old Peter Senior birdied the 72nd hole of the Australian PGA Championship to force a payoff with Geoff Ogilvy and then beat him at the second extra hole.
The victory came on top of a successful rookie season for Senior on the Champions Tour in the US and left not only Peter Senior feeling good about 2010 but all of those who were present to witness what was an historic moment in Australian golf.