Remembering the tales of the 2011 golf season

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Mike Tuten has spent the past 20 years on the North Shore of Oahu shaping surf boards. He joined his brother, Titleist rep Chris Tuten, for a round of golf on the Plantation Course at Kapalua at the start of the year.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke raises his arms on the 18th green after winning the British Open at Royal St. George's. Clarke had trouble on the hole calculating the number of putts he could take without relinquishing the lead. The answer was five.   File/Associated Press
File/Associated Press
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke raises his arms on the 18th green after winning the British Open at Royal St. George's. Clarke had trouble on the hole calculating the number of putts he could take without relinquishing the lead. The answer was five.

Walking down the seventh fairway, the Pacific Ocean on the horizon, Tuten said he found a lot of similarities between surfing and golf.

“It’s all about controlling your inner self and enjoying the environment around you,” Tuten said.

That made sense to Adam Scott, who does a fair bit of surfing. Ditto for Geoff Ogilvy, who described himself as a “splash-in-the-water kind of surfer.”

The 2011 season began with waves crashing on the shores of Maui and Oahu. Rory McIlroy wiped out at the Masters Tournament and had the ride of his life at the U.S. Open. Luke Donald is riding a wave that doesn’t seem to end. Tiger Woods showed signs of paddling back out to sea.

Along the way, there were plenty of other moments that went beyond birdies and bogeys.

• Darren Clarke couldn’t do the math. For a guy who spent two decades chasing the claret jug, Clarke did a remarkable job keeping a clear head until he approached the 18th green at Royal St. George’s and tried to figure out what remained for him to capture golf’s oldest championship.

He played the final hole the way he wanted, taking the bunkers out of play off the tee and hitting to the back left of the green.

“The crowd was roaring and shouting, and I’m thinking, ‘How many putts do I have from there?’ ” Clarke said. “And I couldn’t get the number in my head. The only time that I really figured it out was when I was standing over the ball. I’ve got five putts.”

He took three to make a meaningless bogey and win by three shots over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

• Bo Van Pelt walked up to the porch at the Augusta National clubhouse to find his caddie waiting for him with the golf bag and listening to a man on the bench telling stories.

“Bo,” caddie Mark Chaney said. “Have you met Bob Goalby?”

For the next hour, the 1968 Masters champion regaled Van Pelt with stories about practice rounds with Ben Hogan, about stories Sam Snead told at the Champions Dinner, about playing in the Ryder Cup against British players hardly anyone knew.

Van Pelt didn’t want to leave. Goalby would finish a story, there would be a long pause, and then he would start another.

At the end of the week, Van Pelt was among eight players who had a share of the lead on Sunday. He tied for eighth. Yet that Tuesday with Goalby was as strong a memory as his best finish at the Masters.

• Fred Couples was outside the ropes near the first tee at Royal Melbourne, holding court as only he can do, while Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson prepared to play in the Presidents Cup.

The conversation shifted to hockey, back to baseball, a brief stop for the NFL. And then he stopped.

“You know, I should be over there talking to Dustin and Tiger instead of you two clowns,” he said.

Maybe so. But, one reporter asked, what would be his preference?

“You guys,” Couples said. Nodding in the direction of Woods and Johnson, he added with a smile, “Those guys don’t give me anything.”

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