Winners like Bradley, Clarke and Schwartzel are good for golf
Keegan Bradley's debut victory provided the game with another previously unsung hero and the manner of his success, fighting back from five shots behind with three holes to play, was astonishing sporting theatre.
The 25-year-old's triumph in the US PGA, his first grand slam event, meant that the average ranking of this year's four major victors is 67, and he was the second successive winner of one of the big four to be ranked outside the world's top 100.
Like many young golfings pros, Bradley is eager, fit, well schooled and determined. Photo: Getty
Bradley, who is only the second most famous golfer in his family, is living proof that majors are no longer the sole preserve of the game's elite players. The nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley reflects the strength in depth that prevails on the pro tours these days.
There is a production line of talent who are eager, fit, well schooled and determined to plunder the riches offered by the game's biggest events.
They also have access to made-to-measure equipment that affords generous sweet spots and forgiving ball contact and this serves to further level the playing field.
Hence we had a leaderboard at the Atlanta Athletic Club that was packed with names familiar only to the most die hard of golf fans. Bradley was the seventh successive first-time major winner and the 13th different champion in the last 13 grand slam tournaments.
So many players are potential major winners these days. Should this make it easier for players like Luke Donald and Lee Westwood to crack this Holy Grail, or does it make it harder?
There was a time when it would only be the very best challenging for such honours and as the top two in the world the two Britons are part of the current elite. But the number of people they have to beat is far greater nowadays and their frustration at another year passing without claiming a major is palpable.
After hacking his way around Atlanta, Tiger Woods needs an Andre Agassi-style career rebuild. Photo: Getty
When you consider how many contenders exist in the modern game it makes Tiger Woods's achievement in winning 14 majors all the greater. Ironically, after missing the cut in such miserable fashion, the former number one (now 33 in the world) appears one of the least likely winners out there at the moment.
Woods needs to be playing golf and anywhere would do. He has completed just six-and-a-half competitive rounds since April and was a fool to suggest he could win in Atlanta. We were even greater idiots for giving credence to his comments.
It is time for Woods to admit that he is back to square one and he has to rebuild his career in the humble way that Andre Agassi did in the mid-90s. Agassi went right back to challenger level, picking up his own balls, before climbing back to the summit of tennis.
Ineligible for the PGA Tour play-offs, Woods should follow a similar path and go to tournaments that are good for his game, not just events that are willing to pay him inflated appearance fees.
Anyway, enough of Woods, he was just one of so many talking points at the final major of the year. Another was the fact that a long flat-stick - Bradley's belly putter - won one of the coveted big-four championships for the first time.
As a result, the debate over whether players should be allowed to use an anchor point to make a stroke will be re-ignited. The horse has bolted, though, because Bradley is one of several young stars using these implements and says it feels perfectly natural.
For the R&A and USGA, retrospective legislation to outlaw belly putters and broom handles would be even harder to impose now.
How the Atlanta course was set up was another huge talking point. The design with so much water, bunkers that were genuine hazards and challenging Bermuda rough was rather one dimensional and the closing stretch of holes were brutal - just ask poor Jason Dufner.
But no one could argue with the level of drama they produced as Dufner imploded and Bradley recovered with back-to-back birdies after seemingly blowing his chances with his triple-bogey six at the 15th.
It gave us a climax to the major season that for sporting drama was in keeping with the romance of Clarke's win at Royal St George's, the majesty of McIlroy at Congressional and the brilliance of Schwartzel's charge to glory that set the 2011 major ball rolling at Augusta.
Even though some of the champions were not those expected to lift the game's greatest trophies, the majors again delivered and the appetite for more will be as insatiable as ever when the Masters comes back into view next spring.