2011’s Majors – the essential analysis

We look at the leading lights and the let-downs in the four big ones

1 Charl was very much the main man 
AS well as winning the Masters Schwartzel proved to be the most steady over all four Majors. The South African’s total finishing positions (38) was 16 places better than Steve Stricker while he was also 10 shots better than the American and Sergio Garcia. 
Only 11 made all four weekends – the others were Rory McIlroy, YE Yang, Ryan Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Gary Woodland, Bill Haas, Bubba Watson and Edoardo Molinari.
Not many of us would have seen Schwartzel’s train coming but he also made all four cuts in 2010 where his worst finish was 30th.

2 The world rankings were little gauge
THREE men – Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald – have topped the world rankings this year yet the best they could muster was Westwood’s distant 3rd at Congressional and Donald’s 4th at Augusta. You would have to look some way further down the standings to find the four eventual winners – Schwartzel was 29th, McIlroy 8th, Darren Clarke 111th and Keegan Bradley 108th.
Put simply the Majors are more open these days than ever.
In 2011 McDowell missed three of four cuts while Oosthuizen and Kaymer had two blank weekends. 3 Apprenticeship not always needed
THE next time you hear that there is always a period of ‘serving your time’ before winning a Major then think of Keegan Bradley. The 25-year-old was playing in his first Major – during a spell in 2010 he missed eight cuts in 11 starts on the Nationwide Tour. 
He became only the second Major debutant champion since Francis Ouimet in 1913. 
And the last? Ben Curtis in 2003.
He also became the seventh consecutive first-time Major winner and broke America’s longest Major drought going back to Phil Mickelson at Augusta in 2010. 

4 No lead is big enough
RORY McIlroy led by four going into the last round at Augusta, Jason Dufner led Bradley by five shots with four holes remaining. 
Neither player won. The possibility of a first Major does funny things to a player – McIlroy appeared set for greatness for three days, he had holed hardly anything yet still dominated. 
After Schwartzel’s rapid start, the lead was gone in just over an hour and he finished 10 back in a tie for 15th.
Bradley looked dead and buried after a treble bogey at 15 yet still somehow prevailed. Two birdies at 15 and 16 were enough to catch the previously unruffled Dufner (pictured).

5 The second title is rarely easy either
LAST year we all took great delight in McDowell, Oosthuizen and Kaymer opening their Major accounts. 
The following year – take note Messrs Schwartzel, McIlroy, Clarke and Bradley – is often a far different proposal. 
In 2011 McDowell missed three of four cuts while Oosthuizen and Kaymer had two blank weekends.

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