A major change: at last we can see the trees for the Woods

It was the year when the European major drought finally, blessedly, came to an end. It was the year when Ireland's 60-year wait was made to seem well worthy of the torment on an emotion-charged Sunday evening. It was the year when Seve waved goodbye, when Rory said hello. But however much appears to change in golf, it always stays the same. For this was the Year of the Tiger. Aren't they all?

Not that 2007 was vintage Woods. In fact, a haul of one major out of four is decidedly vinegary for a golfer whose ambition stretches out so eye-strainingly that every other professional's seems a piddling par three in comparison. But there's the thing. Even when he is operating a few feet below his very best, his rivals remain dwarfed to the point of irrelevance. The 32-year-old (he celebrates his birthday today) won seven US Tour titles, his 13th major and collected two more World Golf Championships. Meanwhile, his lead at the head of the world rankings actually increased.

There was also the little matter of the FedEx Series, the inaugural staging of the season-ending spectacular that was supposed to bring the curtain down with all the drama that the American networks crave. Did someone say drama? Phil Mickelson did provide some resistance in the second event of four, but otherwise Tiger experienced more drama on the way to his local cash machine (not the most inappropriate of analogies, as he picked up more than 7 million for that little stroll). The powers that be can try all they want to effect a thrilling shoot-out; the truth is, if Tiger's aim is in then the bloodshed will be over before the fifth pace is taken.

So golf should breathe a hefty sigh of relief that the very nature of its sport means Mr Perfect cannot always be perfect. The pack caught up to a degree, so an inspired Zach Johnson at Augusta and an even more godly Angel Cabrera at the US Open could consign Woods to a disastrous runner-up berth ("It's that new swing he's finished!"; "No, it's the arrival of his first baby his hunger's gone!").

Then there are those courses that allow the balls to drop with an order verging on Camelotian logic. The Guinevere of these is, of course, Carnoustie, which by some margin produced the major of the year, if not the decade so far. Purists will scream that the success of Padraig Harrington was fortuitous as he visited the Barry Burn not once, but twice on the final hole of regulation play, but let them howl while the rest of us hang on for the white-knuckled ride.

Carnoustie finished as it began with disbelief. First the teary-eyed retirement of Seve Ballesteros, then the dreamy-eyed debut of the Ulster teenager Rory McIlroy. True, Woods was not himself, but did that devalue our entertainment? Did it mean we felt guilty, perched on the edge of the armchair? Or should we always turn off in self-righteousness if the Tiger isn't eight clear?

So we no longer have to fill in the blank in the sentence "xx years without a European major". Well, not for a little while anyway. Padraig saw to that. Elsewhere, Justin Rose saw to it that the British golfing year was far from a dead loss. His Order of Merit triumph may not mean much to some, but his rise from outside the world's top 50 to sixth surely should. The English fairways genuinely never have had it so good, with five of their rank in the world's top 25. There, that hasn't happened before. Take that, Mr Woods.

Reasons to be cheerful

1. The Open is back at Birkdale. Last time it was held there, in 1998, a 17-year-old amateur stunned the world. Whatever happened to Justin Rose?

2. The Ryder Cup is in Kentucky and Europe are going for their sixth win out of seven. "The tournament needs America to win this time." Yawn.

3. If Tiger Woods wins all four majors (20-1, Stan James) he will draw within one of Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18. The wait could soon be over.

4. Michelle Wie will not play in any men's tournaments. So she can concentrate on missing cuts at women's events.

5. Colin Montgomerie marries for a second time. He will go back to being a carefree, mild-mannered gentleman. Or not.

6. It is the last year in which the European Tour begins before the old one has finished. Hip, hip... (and shhhh about the "European" bit).

James Corrigan

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015