|Tiger finally ends a two-year winless streak even though at an unofficial tournament. (Getty Images)|
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Fans seem to love top-10 lists.
They allow readers to reflect upon the time that has passed over the previous year, to put a season in some sort of context, or perhaps even draw a few long-view conclusions as to what mattered most, or what didn't rate at all.
No question, top-10 lists stimulate conversation, but they fall short in at least one regard -- they can be rather limited in scope and magnitude. So, rather than trot out yet another subjective list consisting solely of best shots, funniest one-liners or top achievements, we decided to ring in the new year by wringing a few 2011 necks beforehand.
The 2011 season was unusual in several fashions, with the longtime old guard taking a pronounced step backward as three different players climbed to No. 1 in the men's game, four more first-time major winners were crowned, steady Luke Donald assumed the game's top-player throne and flashy Rory McIlroy began to deliver on his considerable promise. Those themes were pretty heavily seized upon over the course of the past 11½ months, and rightly so.
But how much of the rest took root in your cranium, or deserved to? Let's play 20 questions and see, while taking a few departing shots at the season in the process.
The dial on this quiz goes all the way to 2011. Answers are located at the bottom, and beware the trick question.
1. Tiger Woods won an unofficial event in mid-December and is pinning his comeback hopes on a new swing, wherein his head dips at impact, a move that seemingly best resembles: A. This guy . B. These two. C. Or maybe this fellow here.
2. Former major winners David Duval, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Lee Janzen had what resume items in common earlier this month? A. All were playing at the tour's Qualifying School finals. B. None of the four earned back their tour card. C. None has won another tournament since last winning a Grand Slam event. D. All four are way taller than Tim Finchem.
3. World No. 1 Luke Donald recorded what important feat in 2011? A. Became the first player to top the money list on both major tours in the same season. B. Won four tournaments globally, tops in the world. C. Proved that while the game's rule-makers have been in a drooling coma regarding runaway technology, little guys can still whip the big hitters. D. Continued to drive snooty European writers batty by living in Chicago, where he is married to a Yank and has two American-born daughters.
4. Sergio Garcia, ranked No. 2 in the world at the start of 2009, ended a lengthy drought and staged a nice comeback with two wins in 2011. He enters the new season: A. With a hot new girlfriend. B. Again contending for the title, "best player never to have won a major." C. Ready to annoy, inflame and aggravate the U.S. side in the Ryder Cup. D. In other words, back to acting normally.
5. On the business front, Tiger Woods made news when: A. With his endorsement potential in the toilet, his agent was abruptly fired by IMG. B. He inked a deal with an obscure company that makes Japanese butt balm. C. He signed a bag deal wherein Woods gets paid on the back end if the company succeeds. D. Lost the sponsor of his boutique event in SoCal, moments after Woods won the tournament. E. Hasn't been spotted in a swoosh ad since Nike was an actual Greek goddess.
6. After sticking with Woods through the heat of the scandal, when Steve Williams was fired after more than a decade of loyal valet service, the caddie said: A. "I feel like I wasted two years of my life." B. "I wanted to stick it up his black #!%@." C. "This is absolutely making a mountain hill out of a mole hole." D. "Just because I make a remark regarding my former employee (sic), it gets blown way out of proportion."
7. As he continued to miss cuts and play unimpressively, Woods' most common lament morphed from: A. I need more reps. B. I need more live reps. C. I need more competitive live reps. D. Forget what I said, because I will be taking the next two months off, regardless.
8. Former "Big Five" members Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods combined for how many victories in 2011? A. One more than Hogan, Snead, Nelson, Demaret and Middlecoff. B. One fewer than Sergio Garcia amassed, by himself, exclusively on Spanish soil, in a two-week span. C. The same number as Thomas Bjorn has eyebrows.
9. With a victory that was very popular overseas, Ulsterman Darren Clarke came back from the brink of career irrelevance to win the British Open, which he used as a springboard to: A. Stay up all night partying. B. Stay up all week partying. C. Stay up all season partying. D. Finish last in pretty much every remaining 2011 event in which he played.
10. When rising star Rory McIlroy shot 80 to spectacularly blow the 54-hole lead at the Masters, he won over a legion of followers partly because: A. He hit a tee shot so far left on No. 10, fans thought he was taking a leak in the Augusta National cabins situated near where his ball came to rest. B. Compared to Boo Weekley, his accent is a lot easier to understand. C. He showed more charm, humility and self-deprecation in his post-round interview than Woods has mustered after his four Masters wins.
11. In the spring, noted hothead Rory Sabbatini created news by: A. Winning the Honda Classic a few weeks after verbally torching a tournament volunteer at the Los Angeles event. B. Nearly getting into a brawl in a tee box during tournament play with Sean O'Hair. C. Disappearing for two months from regular PGA Tour competition as officials declined to confirm or deny that he had been suspended for his part in the O'Hair incident. D. Using up all the good "Rory" headline puns before McIlroy won the U.S. Open.
12. When Darren Clarke improbably rose from the dead to win the British Open, who did he credit with imparting a crucial, happenstance putting tip before the tournament began? A. Golf psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella. B. Dr. Beezelbub Rotella.
13. It was another lean year for American players in LPGA circles, where the Yankee contingent: A. Produced exactly three different winners all season. B. Red, white and blew chunks at the Solheim Cup, losing key leads on the last three holes as Europe rallied to win. C. Got their newsmaker doors blown in by 16-year-old Lexi Thompson, who might already be the best American on the tour. D. But on a positive front, at least Cristie Kerr didn't win.
14. Pick your favorite Justin Rose quote of the 2011 season: A. "Here, maybe this will work better for you than it does for me," Rose said as he handed his uncooperative putter to a young fan in the gallery, who, as it turned out, was left-handed. B. "Winning the U.S. Open -- so simple, even a caveman can do it," which Rose tweeted along with a photo of the heavily bearded Lucas Glover, the 2009 Open champion. C. After a waiter had repeatedly referred to him by the wrong name all night, confusing Rose for rakishly handsome Aussie Adam Scott, Rose tweeted, "Funny how girls don't seem to make that mistake."
15. After Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open with a record-setting performance, he: A. Cut loose his longtime manager. B. Cut loose his longtime girlfriend. C. Joined the PGA Tour, where such behavior isn't considered unusual in the least.
16. Pick your most stultifying Tiger Woods quote of 2011: A. "It's a process." B. "It is what it is." C. "I just need more reps." D. "My traj was really good." E. "You people still write this stuff down?"
17. Keegan Bradley made history or headlines in 2011 by: A. Becoming the first player to win a major with a belly putter. B. Making up a five-stroke deficit in the last three holes to win the PGA Championship. C. Appear on the field at Red Sox and Patriots games in the same week. D. Becoming the second player in a century to win his first career start at a major. E. Despite two wins, was reamed for a Presidents Cup berth by captain Fred Couples.
18. Phil Mickelson achieved this career distinction in 2011: A. Was announced as forthcoming World Golf Hall of Fame inductee. B. Finished second at a major tournament that included the words "Open" and "Championship" in the title for the sixth time, this time in England, not the U.S. C. Continued to verbally harass designer Rees Jones, even though Mickelson won his lone event of the year at Houston, a venue designed by the architect. D. Became roughly the thousandth player to excitedly use and extol, then eventually discard, a belly putter.
19. American Steve Stricker, 44, achieved this milestone in 2011: A. Became the only player on the PGA Tour with multiple wins over the past three seasons. B. Finished the year at No. 6 in the world ranking, making him the top-ranked Yank and marking the first time in 17 years that no American has resided in the top five in the final list of the year. C. Hit the best clutch shot of the year in our opinion, leading to his third straight win at the John Deere Classic.
20. American marketplace stars Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis combined for how many LPGA wins in 2011? A. The same number as Eldrick T. Woods. B. One fewer than a 16-year-old who was deemed too young for membership, Lexi Thompson. C. The same figure that Karrie Webb took home for finishing first in Phoenix, which had a controversial "virtual purse" that was donated to charity. D. Same as the number of possible wrong answers on this quiz, in case you haven’t figured that out already.
Answer key: Just like with the occasionally wayward and wild columns authored by a certain national golf writer, there is technically no such thing as a wrong opinion. Likewise, there are no wrong answers in this quiz and everybody ends the year with a perfect score.