US stars mired in record major win drought
Golf’s global growth, including a spot in the 2016 Olympics, has
helped push the once-dominant American lineup to a record win drought of
six major events entering next week’s PGA Championship.
Since the Masters began in 1934 as the newest of golf’s four major
events, only in 1994 did a year pass without a US player taking at least
one of the game’s most coveted crowns.
But 2011 could see another American shutout as South African Charl
Schwartzel won the Masters while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy won the
US Open and his compatriot Darren Clarke captured last month’s British
Europeans dominate the world rankings too. England’s Luke Donald and
Lee Westwood rank first and second followed by Germany’s Martin Kaymer,
the 2010 PGA Championship winner, and American Steve Stricker edging
McIlroy for fourth.
Add Europe’s victory in last year’s Ryder Cup and it’s easy to see
how even the return of former World No. 1 Tiger Woods from left knee and
Achilles tendon injuries might not be enough to push a US player into a
Sunday trophy ceremony.
“I just think the game has become so global,” Woods said. “Golf is
just growing leaps and bounds globally. It’s been a flat market here in
the States, but around the world it’s been tremendous to see.
“With the advent of us being in the Olympics, I think there is going
to be a huge influx of countries that haven’t really taken up the game
of golf are now going to be focused on it.” Woods warns that China might
well follow the lead of Northern Ireland, which has produced three of
the past six major winners. And China has a much larger pool of
potential talent should the sport catch fire there.
“I know China is just exploding over there,” Woods said. “I’ve been
over there looking at some of the junior golf academies that they have
and it’s phenomenal. They all have good swings.
“Extrapolate that out 15, 20 years from now, it’s going to be just
Not since Phil Mickelson won last year’s Masters has an American won
a golf major and the left-hander sees Asia as a region to be watched now
that South Korean Yang Yong-Eun became the first Asian man to win a
major at the 2009 PGA.
“Certainly we all expect that in the next couple of decades Asia is
going to have a very strong presence in the game of golf,” Mickelson
“I’m not worried about American golf. I think I’m more happy to see
how strong international golf is. We’ve got players from all over the
world winning the biggest events. That this only helps grow the game on
an international level.
“I’m not worried as though we don’t have good young players coming up
to represent America, because I think we do.”
Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open winner, also sees Rickie Fowler and
other young US talents as the tonic for competing with the new worldwide
“As far as American golf, it’s healthy,” Curtis said. “We’ve got a
lot of great young players coming up. I think a few of them just need a
little bit more experience. Like Rickie Fowler... he’s a great young
player. He’s a good kid, and you hope one day he’ll get a couple
victories under his belt.
“Once he wins one he could win 10.” There is also a sense that this
is part of a cycle that will one day switch back around to see Americans
back at the forefront of the majors.