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PGA: What Happened to the State of American Golf?

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PGA: What Happened to the State of American Golf?
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Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will likely square off in the Ryder Cup.

With the Ryder Cup right around the corner, it's time to take stock of American golfers compared to their European counterparts.

European golfers are largely given the edge when compared with the top American golfers. That is due in large part to Ryder Cup history. European golfers have won six of the last eight Ryder Cup competitions.

That's a very strong trend that American golfers can't argue with. Included in those strong European numbers were two massive runaways at the 2004 and 2006 Ryder Cups, with the Europeans winning by 18 1/2-9 1/2 margins on both occasions.

In 2004, that triumph was quite noteworthy because it took place at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield, Michigan. When you get beaten that badly on your home turf, that's a humiliating defeat.

The Americans should have rallied for a better showing at the 2006 competition at the K Club in County Kildaire in Ireland, but the Americans took another one-sided beating.

The Americans finally got back in the win column when they registered a 16 1/2-11 1/2 victory at the Valhalla Club in Kentucky, but instead of putting together a winning streak, the Europeans took the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Result in Wales by a narrow 14 1/2-13 1/2 margin.

The smooth swing of Martin Kaymer gives European golfers a strong chance in international competition.

So there's little doubt that the Europeans have dominated recent Ryder Cup competition and non-Americans won two of the four majors this year. Ernie Els took the British Open with a final round rally and No. 1 Rory McIlroy came home with the PGA championship.

A look at the top 11 on the PGA's average score per round reveals that six of the names belong to European golfers.

McIlroy is at the top of the list with a mark of 68.869, and he's followed closely by Tiger Woods with an average score of 68.871.

Americans Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk follow Woods, but Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose man the next three positions. Dustin Johnson breaks the European run but Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald give the Europeans the majority in the top 11.

A 6-5 advantage for the Europeans on the American PGA tour is fairly noteworthy.

Other top European golfers who don't regularly play on the American tour will also compete in the Ryder Cup.

Some of those more familiar European names who will play for the Ryder Cup include Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell.

The American will counter with players like Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker in addition to Woods, Dufner, Kuchar, Furyk and Dustin Johnson.

While the Europeans may rate a small edge based on recent history, the teams are virtually even and the 2012 Ryder Cup will be played at the Medinah Country Club in the Chicago suburb of Medinah, Illinois. That "home course" advantage may help the Americans.

So it appears the state of American golf is in decent shape. A win at Medinah would allow that status to grow significantly for the U.S golfers.

However, if the Europeans find a way to win on the road, it will be back to the drawing board for the Americans.

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