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villain

The decade in golf: NCG’s biggest villain

On the last day of the decade, there's no better time to reflect on who really got under our skins in the past 10 years
 

The golf villain is few and far between, but when they come around they don’t mess about. So who has been the best of the last decade (or worse, depending on your outlook)?

Alex: Phil Mickelson. Why? Where do I start? In this decade alone there was the jogging putt at Shinnecock, the grotesque posing with a suitcase packed with $9 million in cash after The Match, and signing up for the controversial Saudi International claiming he wanted to “grow the game” rather than just admitting they are lining his pockets. Oh, then told his critics “you’ll be OK”.

But it all pales into insignificance behind something that happened just four months into the decade. Everyone goes on about that shot from the pines at Augusta during the 2010 Masters, but he MISSED THE PUTT! He may as well have laid up then got up and down. He’d have written the same score on his card. Unforgivable.

Mark: I’ll always go with Bubba Watson for this one. Great to watch, dreadful to listen to be it his outlook to life – “It’s just my belief system on the Bible says you can’t be gay. That’s a sin” – or his limited knowledge of the world outside the US of A – “I don’t know the names of all the things, the big tower, Eiffel Tower, an arch, whatever that … I rode around in a circle. And then what’s that … it starts with an L, Louvre, something like that.”

This was was the same week that he refused to share a courtesy car with a fellow player for the 10-minute drive from his luxury hotel to the course.

A few years ago we did an instruction shoot and the photographer had spent a day with Bubba the week before and, despite the bundles of cash Watson was getting paid from that particular sponsor, he was beyond awful from start to finish.

It takes something to be in the world’s top 10 and not get a wildcard for the Ryder Cup but Bubba still managed it.

Dan: It has to be Patrick Reed, though plenty of other golfing figures have threatened in this category too. The ‘shush’ gesture at Gleneagles was pantomime villainy of the highest order – I loved it. I also think of Suzann Pettersen and gimme-gate at the Solheim Cup, which threatened to derail the entire competition. Phil’s had his moments too, notably at Shinnecock Hills with the moving ball episode.

Andy: Through no fault of his own, Zach Johnson. Him winning at St Andrews, while deserved, was this decade’s Stewart Cink moment for me. After what had been one of the most exciting final rounds I can remember, I felt the whole thing fell flat when he won. It’s nothing personal though, Zach.

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

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