The US Open may appear to be an event that welcomes an international crowd, but that is just a facade.
When the winner of a major championship is also a native of that country, they become a national hero and the hubris is palpable. Tiger Woods was an icon for American sports culture for over a decade because he did not only conquer golf events around the world, but he demolished international fields in his own nation, ultimately defending and representing the U.S.
However, since Woods’ demise from the elite of golf, the landscape has changed, especially that of the major championships. Last year, three of the four major championships were won by non-American players, including the US Open by the unexpected Northern Irishman, Graeme McDowell. In addition, some of the most prestigious and difficult PGA Tour events were won by players from all-around the world in 2010, like Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Geoff Ogilvy and Louis Oosthuizen.
This caused an uproar by sports analysts and experts at the end of last year’s golf season, who boldly called 2010 the rise of non-American players. This newfound diversity permeating professional golf created a level of parity, as well as unexplored enthusiasm.
However, there's no doubting the the Americans are hungry to have the ball back in their court. A triumph by an American at this year's US Open at the Congressional Course has the potential to reroute, and ultimately re-energize, the Americans who have struggled in previous majors.
But which American is poised to hoist the legendary trophy?