It was a decade in golf that saw epic team wins by the widest and narrowest of margins, accompanied by historic comebacks and stellar individual performances, with many coming from UK players.
Here is our chance to reflect on those past 10 years, a fascinating period during which there was plenty of room for golfing magic, madness and mutiny – and that was just Phil Mickelson!
Looking for a little bit of everything, here are my top 10 moments in golf from the past decade. Share your own favourites in the comments section.
Medinah Ryder Cup 2012
The match that became a miracle in the Chicago suburbs, as Europe triumphed from 10-4 down. Inspired by the indomitable Ian Poulter, Europe summoned the spirit of Seve Ballesteros in the first Ryder Cup since the Spanish legend’s untimely passing. Still trailing 10-6 going into the singles, final day heroics from the likes of Poulter, Luke Donald, Paul Lawrie, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and a nerveless Martin Kaymer created a most unlikely victory. It was one of the greatest Ryder Cups.
Solheim Cup 2013 Colorado Golf Club
Led by Liselotte Neumann, Europe’s women headed to Denver seeking a first win in the United States. They achieved it in record style, winning 18-10 – the largest Solheim Cup winning margin. At just 17, Charley Hull made a stunning debut thrashing the much-vaunted Paula Creamer 5&4 in the singles. Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall was the first player from either team to win all five points. Having upset the odds to win in Ireland two years earlier, Europe retained the trophy for the first time.
Golden glory for Rose and Park in Rio 2016
No-one embraced golf’s return to the Olympics more than Justin Rose. While many of his contemporaries used worries about the Zika virus to swerve the Games, the Englishman spoke of how his gymnast wife would never forgive him if he refused the chance of being an Olympian. Rose beat Henrik Stenson to gold, and Inbee Park fittingly dominated the women’s event. She claimed gold having won six of her seven majors in this decade. It is a cliche, but golf was the biggest winner, proving popular with the Rio crowds and the International Olympic Committee. All the top players will compete in Tokyo 2020.
Stenson wins the Open at Royal Troon 2016
There are so many Open memories from the decade – Shane Lowry’s tumultuous triumph as the championship magnificently returned to Royal Portrush being right up there. But the best golf I witnessed came with Henrik Stenson fending off Phil Mickelson with a final-round 63 to finish 20 under par at Troon in 2016. It was an exceptional dual that fluctuated throughout the final weekend. The American runner-up fired a brilliant 65 yet went backwards, losing by three strokes. Mickelson was still an astonishing 11 shots ahead of JB Holmes in third place.
Mickelson on the move at Shinnecock Hills 2018
Despite winning the 2013 Open, three years after collecting his third Masters green jacket, and possessing oodles of charm and PR savvy, Phil Mickelson somehow became golf’s most controversial character of the decade. He unceremoniously shoved captain Tom Watson under the proverbial bus after Ryder Cup defeat at Gleneagles in 2014. The man known as ‘Lefty’ starred in a grubby photo shoot for “The Match”, a $9m shoot out with Tiger Woods that no-one seemed to like. And the most jaw-dropping moment came at the Shinnecock US Open last year when he jogged after his ball and intentionally hit it back towards the hole while it was still moving on the 13th green. He received a two-shot penalty but how he was not thrown out of the championship remains a mystery.
Gimmegate prompts US fightback in 2015
Suzann Pettersen unwittingly inspired a US Solheim Cup fightback in Germany by failing to concede a short putt to Alison Lee. The American missed her attempt to win the 17th and picked up her ball thinking the half had been given by Pettersen and partner Charley Hull. Neither European had made the concession and claimed the hole. It might have helped them on the scoreboard but it cost the moral high ground. It also fired up the US team and they stormed back from 10-6 down in the singles to regain the trophy. Four years later Pettersen atoned in style. Playing as wildcard selection, she secured Europe’s win with the final putt at Gleneagles and then announced her retirement.
Donald goes to world number one in 2011
It was a decent decade for home golf, typified by Luke Donald succeeding Lee Westwood as world number one by beating him in a play-off for the 2011 PGA Championship at Wentworth. With a razor-sharp short game, Donald spent 56 weeks at the top of the standings – the fourth longest reign of the decade. Four UK golfers topped the charts; Westwood (22 weeks), Rory McIlroy (95 weeks) and Justin Rose (13 weeks). McIlroy won the joint highest number of men’s majors in the decade (four). There were also major wins for Rose (2013 US Open), Graeme McDowell (2010 US Open), Darren Clarke (2011 Open) and Danny Willett (2016 Masters).
Hall wins Women’s British Open 2018
Georgia Hall’s epic victory in the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham was an unforgettable triumph. The 22-year-old came from a stroke behind to beat Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum by two strokes with a five-under-par closing round. Huge crowds followed Hall’s every move, inspiring a brilliant display on the famous Lancashire links. As soon as victory was completed, she leapt into the arms of her father, who caddied for her that week. “We’ve been dreaming about this since she was seven years old,” dad Wayne told us afterwards.
Spieth wins 2017 Open Championship
The most breathtakingly ruthless and devastating spell of golf came from Jordan Spieth to leave Matt Kuchar trailing in his wake at Royal Birkdale. Spieth was wobbling as his drive flew into the practice ground to the right of the 13th hole. Somehow he conjured an unlikely bogey before the fireworks truly started. He nearly holed in one at the par-three 14th and eagled the 15th before adding birdies at the next two holes. Kuchar did nothing wrong yet rapidly faded from contention and Spieth claimed the third major of his young career.
Woods wins 2019 Masters
Impossible to ignore. Tiger Woods capped the decade by winning his first major for 11 years. As he turns 44, he can reflect on last April’s stirring Masters victory for its redemptive qualities. It also means, fitness permitting, he still has a chance of overhauling Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories. Woods needs just three more. It is worth remembering that despite missing a dozen majors in an injury-hit decade, he still spent more weeks at world number one (103) than any other male player.