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Top 25 moments of the decade
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Top 25 moments of the decade

As we near the end of the 2010s we at europeantour.com have compiled a list of our top 25 moments of the decade.

Martin Kaymer 2012 Ryder Cup

25. Teenage sensation Matteo Manassero becomes youngest European Tour winner

Kicking off our countdown is Italy’s Manassero who back in 2010 wowed the golfing world.

The teenager had risen to prominence in 2009 after winning the Silver Medal for the lowest amateur at The Open, but it was the following year where he truly wrote his name into the history books.

Having turned professional after the Masters Tournament in 2010, it only took Manassero nine starts on Tour before he was a winner – the teenager stormed to victory at the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar, cruising to a four-shot victory.

At 17 years and 188 days old, Manassero became the youngest winner in European Tour history, beating the previous record set by New Zealand's Danny Lee, who was 18 years and 213 days old when he won the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic. 

That record still stands today.

Matteo Manassero

24. First ever mixed gender group on the European Tour 

At the ISPS Handa Vic Open in 2019 Manon De Roey, Gavin Moynihan and Dale Williamson made up the first ever mixed group on the European Tour.

A total of 76 female and 80 male golfers went through to the weekend, which left exactly 52 groups, presenting the ideal opportunity for organisers to create a little piece of history.

23. Lawlor wins first EDGA event

In 2019 the world’s best disabled golfers took centre stage on the European Tour, both at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and at the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. 

Ten golfers made up the field at Renaissance Club, while eight played over the two days at Jumeriah Golf Estates.

World Number Three Brendan Lawlor made history in Scotland by carding rounds of 77 and 71 to win the inaugural EDGA Scottish Open – a landmark moment for the Tour.

Bernd Wiesberger and Brendan Lawlor

22. Rock holds off Tiger and Rory in Abu Dhabi 

One of the biggest scalps in European Tour history came back in 2012 in Abu Dhabi.

Then World Number 117 Robert Rock held off both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to claim a sensational victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

For years Rock worked in the Swingers Golf Centre in Lichfield "selling Mars bars and watching Tiger win Majors" but he was paired with the then 14-time Major Champion in the final group in the desert.

With the theme tune to the "Rocky" films being sung by fans, the then 34-year-old came up with a true knock-out performance, holding on for a one-shot triumph.

Robert Rock and Tiger Woods in Abu Dhabi

21. Willett a winner again in Dubai

It was a long road back to the top for Danny Willett after the toughest period of his career. 

But when he claimed the prestigious DP World Tour Championship, Dubai in November of 2018 – his first victory since an historic Masters triumph in 2016 – it was a perfect vindication of his patience during a lengthy, arduous process.

Willett openly admitted he did not want to play golf at the end of 2016. He was exhausted and believed he was not able to compete at the standard he had set during his ground-breaking year. 

After injury setbacks and a change of coach in 2017, Willett dropped as low as 462nd in the Official World Golf Ranking in May of 2018. 

Fast forward six months and Willett was paired with reigning Masters Champion Patrick Reed in the final group in Dubai. A classy last round of 68 proved to be enough for the Englishman who was back in the winner’s circle 953 days after he had donned the Green Jacket. Comeback complete.

Danny Willett

20. When Aaron met his heroes  

How about this for a ninth birthday present?

Back in 2017 Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston gave superfan Aaron, whose father had emailed us to ask if we could do something special for his birthday, the ‘best day ever’ ahead of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.

Try not to smile while watching this, we dare you.

19. Wilson’s remarkable comeback win 

By his own admission Oliver Wilson has had a rollercoaster career, with the standout high point coming back at the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The then 34-year-old represented Europe at The 2008 Ryder Cup and was a nine-time runner-up on the European Tour between 2006 and 2009, reaching the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking in the process.

But a dramatic loss of form saw him lose his card at the end of 2012, and he arrived in Scotland outside the top 100 in the Challenge Tour Rankings and ranked 792nd in the world.

What happened next was incredible. The tournament invite held off both McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood to triumph by one shot at St. Andrews – it doesn’t get any better than that.

Oliver Wilson holds the trophy aloft on the Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews

18. Donaldson hits ‘best wedge shot of his life’ for winning moment at Gleneagles 

In 2014 Jamie Donaldson delivered one of the most impressive debut Ryder Cup performances in history.

Not only did the Welshman win three points from the four matches he played, but he also delivered the knockout blow which saw Europe reclaim the trophy. 

Donaldson called the shot that brought victory over Keegan Bradley “the wedge shot of my life”. 

Watching it back five years on it’s very hard to argue with that.

17. Jiménez breaks hole-in-one record at Wentworth 

Always the entertainer, Miguel Ángel Jiménez became the first player in European Tour history to make ten holes-in-one back in 2015.

The Spaniard surpassed Colin Montgomerie's tally of nine when he holed his tee shot from 154 yards at the par three second, during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship.

Jiménez also holds the record for most aces in one season, with three, alongside Elliott Saltman, and is the only player to make two holes-in-one at the BMW PGA Championship, having also achieved the same feat in 2018.

16. Noren wins first Rolex Series event with lowest final round ever at Wentworth 

The first Rolex Series event started with a bang – and it’s continued to deliver ever since. 

First introduced in 2017 the Rolex Series is a premium series of eight events all offering minimum prize funds of US$7 million, which have been won by a number of the game’s elite. 

Alex Noren’s triumph in the debut event is still arguably the most impressive, given he entered Sunday seven shots off the lead. 

Eight birdies in his first 16 holes saw the Swede rise to top spot before he produced one of the great moments on Wentworth Club's famous 18th.

After putting his second shot to six feet he duly holed the eagle putt to take the clubhouse lead – one that would never be matched as he claimed his ninth European Tour title. 

His final round of 62 still remains the lowest ever last round at Wentworth Club.

Alex Noren celebrates winning the BMW PGA Championship

15. Donald wins BMW PGA Championship to become World Number One for first time

To say Luke Donald had an excellent 2011 would be an understatement. Four worldwide wins. Two further runner-up finishes and 20 top tens in total. 

Such form took the Englishman to the summit of the world rankings for the first time, a feat he achieved at the 2011 BMW PGA Championship.

In a thrilling climax Donald beat Westwood in a play-off to overtake his countryman as the World Number One.

On climbing one spot to the top of the rankings, Donald said: "World Number One. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

"It's something I'll be very proud of. Obviously, there's a lot of work still to do and hopefully there'll be much more to come, but I'll savour this.”

Donald would go on to spend 56 weeks as World Number One throughout 2011 and 2012.

Luke Donald is targetting a BMW PGA Championship hat-trick in 2013

14. McDowell becomes first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open

In the time between Tony Jacklin and Graeme McDowell’s U.S. Open wins seven American presidents had come and gone. 

Yep, that’s right, McDowell ended a 40-year wait for a European U.S. Open win with a superbly controlled taming of Pebble Beach. 

With the likes of Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els failing to match the Northern Irishman on championship Sunday, McDowell held on for a one-shot victory.

Add in the fact that it was Father’s Day in the UK and Graeme’s father Kenny was greenside to congratulate him, and this has to go down as one of the most memorable wins of the 2010s.

McDowell US Open

13. Rory’s sublime shot into 18 for 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open win

Playing on home soil with the tournament on the line. Up steps Rory McIlroy. 

Needing something special to guarantee a first win in his home Open, the four-time Major winner hit a stunning shot from 252 yards to within three feet of the hole for a closing eagle, enough to take home the title. 

That title-winning effort was also voted the 2016 European Tour Shot of the Year.

12. Clarke makes major breakthrough in 2011 

At the age of 42, in the supposed twilight of a distinguished career, Darren Clarke wowed the sporting world by winning his first Major Championship at The Open. 

With 20 worldwide wins, and four Ryder Cup victories under his belt, the Northern Irishman was reaching a point where it seemed likely that a Major would evade him. 

The links specialist came alive at Royal St George’s Golf Club, and after three rounds in the 60s found himself heading into Sunday with a slender one-shot lead. 

A closing level par 70 saw that one-shot advantage increase to a three-shot triumph. 

Afterwards in a moving interview Clarke paid tribute to his late wife Heather and to his two sons, Conor and Tyrone. The boys watched from home in Northern Ireland as their father showcased his links skills on the Kent coast.

"In terms of what's going through my heart, there's obviously somebody who is watching down from up above there, and I know she'd be very proud of me. She'd probably be saying, I told you so," Clarke said. "But I think she'd be more proud of my two boys and them at home watching more than anything else. It's been a long journey to get here. It's incredible – it really is. It's for the kids."

Clarke Open win

11. Rose claims Olympic Gold in Rio  

Justin Rose has achieved a lot in his career. He’s reached World Number One, become a Major Champion, and a multiple Ryder Cup and Rolex Series winner. Yet, he’ll most likely always be remembered for his gold medal winning exploits in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

After a 112-year hiatus golf was back in the Olympics fold and the sport was crying out for a high-profile winner. Rose certainly fit the bill. He was forced to work hard in his search for gold, though, and after 71 holes of the contest Rose found himself level with close friend and Ryder Cup partner Stenson. 

After Rose’s third shot, an extraordinary pitch from 38 yards that landed within three feet of the pin, it was the Swede who blinked. Stenson three‑putted from 20 feet to give Rose two putts for the first Olympic gold medal in golf since 1904. He would only need one.

Justin Rose London Heathrow

10. McDowell wins anchor match to regain Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor 

Following his U.S. Open win earlier in 2010, McDowell ensured it would be a year to remember forever with his Ryder Cup exploits at Celtic Manor. 

The Northern Irishman uncorked a second champagne moment of 2010 by reversing the result of the 'War on the Shore' at Kiawah Island in 1981, the last time the competition rested on the last two men still playing, by defeating Hunter Mahan in the final match.  

McDowell clinched victory on the 17th, where Mahan decided his opponent's par putt was close enough for a gimme, but the decisive moment came on the par four 16th, with a birdie earned by a superb 15-foot putt. 

“It was the best putt I've hit in my life,” said McDowell afterwards.

9. Moliwood become first European Ryder Cup pair to go four from four

During The 2018 Ryder Cup Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari showed they are a match made in heaven. 

The duo, who are close pals off the course and have holidayed together with their wives in the Bahamas, brushed aside everything the United States sent their way at Le Golf National to become the first European pair to earn a maximum of four points in a single Ryder Cup.

Given the nickname ‘Moliwood’ by fans the pair were the stars of the show in Paris, and even ended the week sharing a bed together…

8. Westwood ends Tiger’s five-year reign as World Number One in 2010

Back at the very start of the decade Lee Westwood knocked Tiger off his perch, ending his remarkable 281-week reign as World Number One.

The Englishman, then aged 37, became Europe’s first World Number One since compatriot Nick Faldo achieved the feat in 1994.

Asked if it was the most satisfying moment in his career, Westwood said: "Yes, I think so. It's a dream everyone has to say there is nobody better than me at the moment. You have to say it's a highlight. It's a great honour and a big responsibility."

Westwood would occupy top spot in the world for 17 weeks, winning three times while the world’s best player.

Westwood vs Tiger

7. Oliver Fisher becomes first player to shoot 59 on the European Tour 

After more than 690,000 rounds on the European Tour England’s Oliver Fisher became the first player to break 60 back in 2018.

The then 30-year-old made 10 birdies and an eagle for a 12 under par second round at the 2018 Portugal Masters, and just missed out on going even lower on the final hole.

Prior to Fisher’s history-making 59 there had been 18 rounds of 60 on Tour, with several close calls at the magic number. 

"It feels great, I started great and I kept it going," said the then world number 287 after writing his name into the history books.

Oli Fisher 59 picture

6. McIlroy wins first Major, the U.S. Open, by eight shots

Back in 2011 McIlroy won his first of four major championships in the 2010s – and it couldn’t have been more empathic.

After coming unstuck during the fourth round of the Masters in April that year, it didn’t take long for the Northern Irishman to fully redeem himself on the major stage, with a spellbinding performance as he blew away the rest of the field at Congressional Country Club. 

Finishing eight shots ahead of runner-up Jason Day, McIlroy set several U.S. Open records with victory, namely the lowest 72-hole aggregate score with 16 under par – four shots better than the 12 under par total achieved by Tiger Woods when he triumphed at Pebble Beach back in 2000.

The then 22-year-old also became the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923.

McIlroy US Open

5. Garcia becomes the all-time leading points scorer in The Ryder Cup

Sergio Garcia has achieved so much already in his career. A total of 16 European Tour wins. More than 450 weeks in the world’s top ten. Winning the Masters on what would have been countryman Seve Ballesteros’s birthday. 

Yet it is without doubt his exploits in The Ryder Cup which will define the Spaniard’s career. 

How fitting, then, that in 2018 – Sergio’s ninth Ryder Cup – the then 38-year-old would overtake Nick Faldo as the all-time leading points scorer in Ryder Cup history.

Garcia, who arrived in Paris as Captain Thomas Bjørn’s fourth and final pick, won three points – one each day – to take his overall tally to 25.5 points, surpassing Faldo’s mark of 25.

Even more impressively it took Garcia five fewer matches to overtake the record – 41 to Faldo’s 46.

Here’s to more Garcia Ryder Cup magic over the next decade.

Garcia Ryder Cup

4. Tiger embraces kids after 2019 Masters win

When Woods triumphed at the 2008 U.S. Open, few imagined it would take another 11 years before he won another major.

But a car crash in November 2009 eventually led to off-field issues and Woods taking an "indefinite break" from golf.

He returned not long after but following five wins in 2013 started just 24 events in the next four years as his chronic back pain took control – Woods is reported to have said ‘I’m done. I won’t play golf again,’ during the 2017 Masters Champion’s Dinner.

Two years later one of the most remarkable comebacks in sport had been completed with Tiger roaring after sealing a one-shot win at Augusta National.

Arguably the defining image from that famous victory is Woods embracing his son Charlie in the same spot where he hugged his father Earl back in 1997 when he won his first Green Jacket.

Tiger hugs son

3. Lowry rouses Ireland with Open win 

As the wind howled and rain battered Royal Portrush Shane Lowry stormed to a victory which sent shockwaves through the island of Ireland. 

On the Open Championship’s first departure from the UK mainland since 1951, the man from County Offaly blew away all comers, claiming a six-shot triumph in front of a jubilant home crowd.

It wasn’t always an easy ride, though. Back in 2016 Lowry had led by four going into the final round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club but was unable to capitalise – Dustin Johnson would go on to win by three. 

Here he was again with the same four-shot lead going into the last day of a major, with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose all in pursuit. A nervy opening tee shot from Lowry went wide left into the ugly rough – his playing partner Fleetwood found the fairway with ease. Lowry hacked out into a deep front bunker – Fleetwood set up a 12-foot birdie putt. Lowry’s escape shot caught a ridge in the middle of the green and spun right back down the way it came, leaving him with a long par putt, which he missed. He stood over an eight-foot bogey putt, facing up to the prospect of a two-shot swing after Fleetwood made par. Never has a bogey putt been celebrated with such gusto from a crowd.

This was Lowry’s day. Fast forward four hours and the 32-year-old was walking down the 18th with a six-shot lead. Ten years on from his Irish Open triumph as an amateur, Lowry had captured the hearts of a nation again.

Shane Lowry the Champion Golfer of the Year

2. Stenson overcomes Mickelson at The Open in final day duel in 2016

When Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson went toe-to-toe for the Open Championship at Royal Troon, it left many golf fans questioning if they’d seen this before.

Back in 1977 on the same stretch of Ayrshire coast, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus fought what was dubbed as the 'Duel in the Sun' over a red-hot two days at neighbouring Turnberry.

Stenson and Mickelson had history in the competition too, with the Swede finishing as a runner-up behind the American at the 2013 Open Championship in Muirfield.

As a result, Stenson was forced to wait for his first major triumph, but it couldn’t have come in a more impressive fashion.

Stenson broke a number of records with his Open triumph: his 20 under par total eclipsed Woods' 19 under par record total in winning The Open at St Andrews in 2000.

The then world number six's 63 also beat two-time Open Champion Greg Norman's 64 at Royal St George's in 1993 as the lowest final round by a champion, while his aggregate score of 264 beat the Australian's four-round total of 267, set the same year.

His 63 equalled the lowest ever last round to win a major, emulating Johnny Miller's score to triumph at the 1973 U.S. Open.

To give a further indication of just how good ‘The Iceman’ was, Mickelson – who finished in second place with a 17 under par total – would have won 140 of the previous 144 Open Championships with that score.

Stenson Open 2016

1. Kaymer holes winning putt to complete the ‘Miracle at Medinah’

Quite simply, this is one of the most incredible comebacks in not just golf, but sporting history.

At one stage during The 2012 Ryder Cup, Team Europe were down 10-4, with two fourball matches still on the course on Saturday. 

Miraculously, they won both – thanks to Ian Poulter – and the deficit heading into the Sunday singles was 10-6.

More heroics were on display on that unforgettable final day, with Europe winning the first five matches before Garcia and Westwood claimed further points.

With defining shots now coming in quick succession, Rose holed a monster putt on the 17th as he defeated Mickelson, before the crowning moment was left to Martin Kaymer. 

“Germans never miss in penalty shootouts,” Kaymer’s caddie Craig Connelly told himself as his boss lined up a tricky six-foot putt. Kaymer duly converted and Europe’s miraculous Ryder Cup comeback on the outskirts of Chicago was complete. History made.

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