Britain's Magnificent 7 "Major" Winning Golfers

Richard Smith@@richonracingContributor IIISeptember 13, 2011

Britain's Magnificent 7 "Major" Winning Golfers

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    Despite almost dominating the world rankings for the past 12 months, British golfers have only just resumed their assaults on the Major Championships, and it is those currently from Northern Ireland who are leading the charge.

    However, it hasn't always been so prosperous for British golf as it is recently. Only seven British golfers have managed to win a Major in the past 30 years, three coming in the last 12 months, and of those seven, only Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle managed to win more than one Major.

    The future for British golf is bright, and there is plenty of time for the likes of Graeme McDowell and particularly Rory McIlroy to add more Majors to the ones they have already won. There also remains a number of current British golfers who have the potential to join the list of Major winners in 2012 and beyond.

    Here we look at the last seven British Major winners.

Sandy Lyle, Scotland

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    Sandy won the first of his two Majors back in 1985 when he lifted the Open Championship at Sandwich. He followed that up by becoming the first British golfer to win the US Masters with his victory at Augusta in 1988.

Sir Nick Faldo, England

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    Faldo is Britain’s first golfing knight, awarded for his prodigious wins in six Major tournaments. The first of those came in 1987 when he scooped the Open Championship with a victory at Muirfield.

    Two years later he emulated his long-standing rival, Sandy Lyle, to win the US Masters, which he won again 12 months later in 1990. That year also saw him win a second British Open, this time at St. Andrews with a then-record low score. He won a third Open Championship with a second victory at Muirfield in 1992.

    His final Major victory came in 1996 in that infamous final round of the Masters title where he came from nowhere to grasp victory from the hands of Greg Norman.

Ian Woosnam, Wales

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    Like Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam was a big rival to Faldo on the world circuit, and he joined the list of Major winners with a victory at the US Masters in 1991.

    Although coming close on a number of occasions, the popular Welshmen has had to settle for just the one in his career.

Paul Lawrie, Scotland

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    Unfairly described as a "one Major wonder," Lawrie shot to fame with a victory in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. His win was quite remarkable as he was never really thought of as a contender at the highest level, and it came after he went into the final round 10 shots behind the leader.

    His name will forever be synonymous with that win, and he remains in an elite group of British major winners.

Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland

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    McDowell was the first player from British shores to win a US Open title since Tony Jacklin achieved the feat back in 1971. The win came at the formidable Pebble Beach course where he was the only player not to finish over par on level par.

    He struggled to make an impact in 2011, but at the age of just 32, there's no way McDowell can be written off from adding to that US Open victory in the future.

Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland

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    Rory McIlroy followed his great pal, Graeme McDowell, by claiming the 2011 US Open with a record-breaking performance that had to be seen to be believed.

    His score of 268 (16 under par) was just one of several new records for the tournament. The win came just a few weeks after his heartbreaking last round in the Masters, which saw him finish in 15th place after going into the final round with a four-shot lead.

    There's no doubting McIlroy is one of the most exciting players in the sport right now, and at the age of 22 it would be amazing if he did not go on to win multiple Majors over the coming years.

Darren Clarke, Northern Ireland

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    Darren Clarke became one of the most popular winners of the Open Championship when he took the field apart at Royal St George. Having gone through a severe slump following his wife’s death in 2006, Darren came roaring back to his best and thoroughly deserved the 2011 Claret jug.

    However, at the age of 43, it is difficult to imagine that he'll be in contention for too many more Major titles in his career.

Other British Players Hoping to Join the List of Major Winners

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    British golf really has enjoyed a renaissance in the past couple of years, and it would be a surprise if one or more of these golfers didn't appear on the list of Major winners in 2012.

    A number of players are considered such contenders, including world No. 1 and No. 2, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood respectively, who have come close on numerous occasions but to no avail. It would be astounding if either didn't end that dry spell in the next couple of years.

    Ian Poulter, ranked 18th, and Paul Casey (19th) are also often in the hunt, as are Simon Dyson (28th) and Justin Rose (40th). Of course, with the element of surprise, other players could emerge over the next 12 months as well.