American Golfers Struggle in China: Tiger Woods Is Top Yankee, Tied for 17th

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American Golfers Struggle in China: Tiger Woods Is Top Yankee, Tied for 17th
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Granted, it isn't a huge delegation the Americans brought to Shanghai, but they had to have been hoping for something a little better than this.

Through three rounds of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in China, the Europeans are flexing their golf muscles while the Americans are looking around sheepishly, hoping no one notices them.

Of the 11 Americans in the field of 77, no one is closer than 11 shots off the lead through 54 holes. Tiger Woods holds the honor of the top American, but he is currently in a tie for 17th.

Only Woods at three under, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney at two under (tied for 23rd), and Anthony Kim and Ryan Palmer at one under (tied for 27th) have managed scores under par. None of them are near the European leaders Francesco Molinari at 14 under and Lee Westwood at 13 under.

Indeed, the top of the leader board in Shanghai looks like a European Ryder Cup team reunion.

The top four through three rounds are all from the 2010-winning Ryder Cup team: Molinari, Westwood, Luke Donald and Ross Fisher. Throw in Paddy Harrington, Paul Casey and Fredrik Andersson, and you have seven Europeans currently in the Top 10.

Seven Europeans; zero Americans.

Of course, sheer numbers must be taken into account. The Europeans have many more in the field than the U.S., but still, when you consider the talent of the U.S. players in the field, from Woods to Mickelson to Mahan to Fowler to Kim to Watney, it is a bit alarming, to say the least.

Jetlag maybe? This can't quite be the explanation, as several of the Americans came over early so this wouldn't be a problem.

In truth, this tournament in China is a fairly good example of golf in 2010. It is safe to say that European golf had perhaps its best year in a couple decades.

Europe won the Ryder Cup, had two major winners in Graeme McDowell and Marin Kaymer, has the No. 1-ranked player in the world (Lee Westwood) for the first time in 16 years and had arguably the best golfer of the year in Kaymer. They also won several tournaments in the states on the PGA tour.

If the Americans wanted to reassert themselves on the international golf stage this weekend in Shanghai, it hasn't quite worked out.

If Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson was hoping Lee Westwood's stay at No. 1 would be short-lived, it looks like that isn't going to happen. With the golf year winding down there is a good chance the Englishman will not only make it through two weeks at No. 1, but he most likely will stay there through this year and into next.

To say 2011 will be a challenge to the American golfers might be a bit of an understatement.

Game on.

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