2011 Open Championship: Non-American Major Champions Are Nothing New

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2011

SANDWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 17:  Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland kisses the Claret Jug following his victory at the end of the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Since 2007, American golfers have won just six of 19 Majors; Tiger Woods alone accounted for two of those six.

Americans have won just one of the last seven Majors and non-American players have captured the last six consecutive Majors.

So what is the deal?

What is going on with American golf lately?

Well, the fact of the matter is that the tide has been turning for quite some time—it’s just that two outstanding American players have been masking the issue for the past decade. 

Since 2000, Americans have won 25 of 47 Majors. However, Woods and Mickelson combined to win 16 of those 25.

Out of the 16 Majors Woods and Mickelson won, non-American players finished second eight times.

So, if you completely remove Woods and Mickelson from the picture, Americans would have won just 17 out of the last 47 Majors. That’s a 36-percent winning percentage for American golfers not named Woods or Mickelson.

Woods and Mickelson will undoubtedly go down as two of the greatest golfers of all-time, but the issue at hand is that while Woods and Mickelson were sitting atop Mt. Everest, the rest of the American golfers were simply trying to catch their breath somewhere down in Nepal. 

And nothing demonstrates the lack of depth in American golf talent better than the Ryder Cup.

America has won just one out of the last five Ryder Cup matches, and just two out of the last seven.

The lack of depth in American golf talent has been so severe that we’ve seen guys like J.J. Henry, Vaughn Taylor, Brett Wetterich and Jeff Overton represent the United States in recent Ryder Cup matches.

Now, nothing against Henry, Taylor, Wetterich and Overton, but they have four career PGA Tour wins between them, and Overton has yet to win a PGA Tour event.

The 141st British Open was just another demonstration as to why so many good, young American golfers have been unable to take that next step—an inability to close.

Jeff Overton was in contention after two rounds at Royal St. George’s, only to post a 78 on Saturday.

Spencer Levin, also in contention after two rounds, posted an 81 on Saturday.

Kyle Stanley, who was three strokes off the lead after Round 1 and right in the mix after 36 holes, went 77-74 on the weekend.

Bo Van Pelt, who was in contention after Rounds 2 and 3, posted a 79 on Sunday.

Hunter Mahan, Sean O’Hair, Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar all missed the cut.

Then we come to this year’s addition of Dustin Johnson at the Majors.

Dustin Johnson, Mickelson's protégé so to speak, pulled to within two strokes of Clarke heading to the par-five 15th—aaand then he shanked his second shot out of bounds and let yet another major championship slip through his hands.

Woods is 14-for-15 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead at a Major.

However, with Woods on the DL and Lefty looking older by the day, we are simply getting a glimpse of what the last decade would have looked like had Woods and Mickelson never existed.  

The fact of the matter is that American golf has been on the decline for quite a while. Combined with the rise of golf in Europe, South Africa, Asia, South America and Australia, the only difference today is that the mask—aka Woods and Mickelson—has finally been lifted.


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