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The year in golf: An odd vintage

Like wine vintages, some golf years are better than others.

That's not to say that 2010 on the PGA Tour was the equivalent of a box wine you can buy on grocery store shelves, but it wasn't a year that will be remembered for being, well, memorable.

It had its moments, though.

Among them:

THEY'RE ALL WASTE BUNKERS AT THE OCEAN COURSE: Dustin Johnson lost the PGA Championship but won admirers with the graceful way he handled his gut-wrenching mistake on the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits in August. He should have known better than to ground his club in the bunker, costing him his spot in the PGA playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson, but he emerged victorious in a different way.

BONES NEVER SAID LAY UP: After seeing video of his Masters-changing 6-iron off the pine straw, through the trees and over a creek to set up a birdie at the 13th hole in the final round of the Masters, even Phil Mickelson wondered if it was the smart play. Maybe he would have won the Masters anyway, but it was the shot of the year.

SHOT IN THE DARK: If Mickelson's 6-iron was the shot of the year, Jonathan Byrd's ace on the fourth playoff hole to win Justin Timberlake's Fall Finish event in Las Vegas ranked as 1B.

Byrd entered the fall season wanting to secure his tour card for 2011 and wound up assuring that his name will be mentioned every time a sudden-death playoff arrives at a par-3 hole.

RORY HALLELUJAH: While acknowledging Stuart Appleby's final-round 59 at The Greenbrier, the round of the year belongs to Rory McIlroy and his closing 62 to win the Quail Hollow Championship. Finishing with six straight threes, McIlroy sent a thunderclap through the golf world, one that may echo for years.

QUOTE OF THE YEAR: "I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame." - Tiger Woods.

BUT THEY ALMOST WON THE RYDER CUP: Between them, Woods and Phil Mickelson won one tournament in 2010.

PASS THE GUINNESS: If winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach wasn't convincing enough, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell confirmed his place among the game's elite with his Ryder Cup-clinching victory over Hunter Mahan. He seems to love the big moments, which not everyone does.

IT STILL BEATS THE BCS: Despite not winning a tournament, Woods maintained his No. 1 world ranking through the year largely because Mickelson didn't play well enough to take it from him.

By the end of the year, Lee Westwood had taken over as the official No. 1, but no one was playing better than Martin Kaymer, who won three straight stars beginning with the PGA.

GROOVY, BABY: After all the chatter before the season began about the potential impact of the new grooves rules, it didn't make a noticeable difference, at least not to the viewing public.

IT FELT LIKE '95 EXCEPT THE PANTS: John Daly opened the British Open at St. Andrews by shooting a first-round 66, rekindling his love affair with the original links. Daly's magic didn't last, but it was a memorable start to a largely forgettable and wind-blown Open championship.

ANYONE HAVE A PARASOL? It's not like anyone was surprised when it rained on the Ryder Cup in Wales. That's what happens in Wales in October.

But when the American team's rain suits - which were already annoyingly ugly - leaked, a team representative had to hustle off to the merchandise tent and buy new waterproofs for Team Stars And Stripes.

Too bad they couldn't buy a do-over for that disastrous third session that cost the Americans the Cup.

HONOR ABOVE ALL: During his sudden-death playoff with Jim Furyk at the Verizon Heritage, Brian Davis called a penalty on himself when his club inadvertently struck a reed in a greenside marsh.

No one, including a PGA Tour rules official standing nearby, saw the violation, but Davis called it on himself, costing him a chance at a victory but earning him a world of respect.

NONE WERE NAMED SERGIO: Seven winners in an eight-tournament stretch were born outside the United States, starting with McIlroy's victory at Quail Hollow in May and ending with McDowell's U.S. Open triumph.

Zach Johnson salvaged some pride for the Stars and Stripes with a win at Colonial, but the collection of international winners said more about the global nature of professional golf than about American-born players.

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