Scott, Tiger and company serve up tasty 2013

Scott, Tiger and company serve up tasty 2013

Scott, Tiger and company serve up tasty 2013

Adam Scott (above) was this year’s rising star, while Woods was voted the player of the year. AFP photo

Like a chocolate box offering an exquisite array of pralines, truffles, fudge and liqueurs, global golf gave its fans just about everything they might have wanted during a riveting and unpredictable 2013.

The quality and variety was exceptional and with Tiger Woods’s remarkable dominance in the late 1990s and early 2000s now a fading memory, confirmed that the sport’s strength in depth has never been better.

Adam Scott ended decades of Australian heartache with his country’s first U.S. Masters victory and left-hander Phil Mickelson pulled off a sensational triumph at the British Open, the one major that had always seemed the unlikeliest for him to win.

England’s Justin Rose finally lived up to the lofty expectations long heaped upon his shoulders by clinching the U.S. Open and ‘ordinary looking’ Jason Dufner, known for his ultra-laidback demeanour and pre-shot waggle, struck a chord with club players everywhere by winning the U.S. PGA Championship.

American Jim Furyk became only the sixth player to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour (at the BMW Championship) and Swede Henrik Stenson ended a brilliant year as the first man to land both the European Tour’s Race To Dubai title and FedExCup playoff honours in the United States.

World number one Woods failed to add to his major tally of 14, despite being in the mix at both the Masters and British Open, but he triumphed a season-high five times on the PGA Tour before being voted Player of the Year for a record 11th time.

Rory McIlroy, his heir apparent, ended a turbulent 2013 campaign on and off the course with victory at the Australian Open and will now aim to build on that as he attempts to regain his brilliant 2012 form.

McIlroy, who had won two majors by the age of 24 but then struggled after changing his equipment manufacturer in January and having to cope with legal distractions, knows as well as anyone how strong competition has become at the highest level.

“You’ve got to play really well to win now,” the Northern Irishman said. “That’s why you see so many first-time winners because the fields are so deep. It is tough to win out here.”

Strong competition

Underlining the strength in depth is the fact that 19 different players have combined to win the last 21 major championships.

Scott put his name on that list in April with a high-quality playoff victory over Argentina’s Angel Cabrera at the Masters, sealing his win in rain-soaked conditions with a 15-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole.

In June, Rose produced remarkable poise to claim his first major title at the U.S. Open.

“I established a game plan that really held true for me,” said Rose. “It’s been a perfect week, start to finish.”

One month later Mickelson produced a great closing round at a major, firing a five-under-par 66 to win the British Open.

Woods described his 2013 campaign as “fantastic.”

“I feel like I’ve improved this year more than I did over the previous year,” the 14-time major winner said. “I think it was a fantastic year, unfortunately I didn’t win a major championship. I was close at the Masters and the British. A couple of little swings here and there and it might have been a different story.”