Time must be now for Euros

By Brian HewittAugust 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' It sticks out in the record book like a sore thumb, especially in this era of European domination of American players in Ryder Cup competition:
 
No European has won the PGA Championship since Tommy Armour way back in 1930.
 
Thats 78 years ago. To put that in perspective, American Tommy Armour III is 48 years old. His grandfather, Tommy Armour I, playing out of Scotland, is the guy who upheld Europes honor all those decades ago.
 
None of this, of course, was eagerly dissected by the Euros at Oakland Hills on Tuesday, two days before the start of the years final major.
 
Sorry, said Ian Poulter when asked, its a tough tournament.
 
Englands Poulter was positively heroic Sunday at Royal Birkdale last month where he finished second to Irelands Padraig Harrington in the Open Championship. Cant answer the reason why one of us hasnt won it in the last ' how many years did you say? he asked. I dont even know.
 
Decades, came the deadpan reply from one of the pressmen.
 
There you go, Poulter replied. Dont know. Hopefully we can change that this week. Its the same old question arises every single time. I dont know. Ive got no answer for that. All I know is that I think that there are a lot of European guys which have certainly got a big chance putting an end to that question. So I dont know.
 
He doesnt know.
 
Brit Lee Westwood, who finished a strong T-2 to Vijay Singh at last weeks WGC-Bridgestone and third at the U.S. Open in June, put a little bit more positive spin on it.
 
Its amazing that a European has not won in such a long time when you consider the strength of the European golf especially over the last few years, he said. The likes of Nick Faldo and Seve (Ballesteros) and Woosie (Ian Woosnam) and Bernhard (Langer) and Sam (Torrance) and people like that. And Monty (Colin Montgomerie). Monty had a good chance at a couple and amazing that none of us would win.
 
Montgomerie lost in a sudden death playoff in 1995 at Riviera to Steve Elkington. But Montgomerie was a star on the European team that barbecued the U.S. right here at Oakland Hills four years ago in yet another lopsided Ryder Cup victory for the Euros.
 
Those memories might be an indicator that the karma will produce a winner from the other side of the pond this year. The course has been lengthened and toughened. But, said American Phil Mickelson, the greens are all the same. None of the greens have been touched. My notes have them to be the same as far as breaks and so forth.
 
And nobody takes more copious notes at majors these days than the hyper-analytical Mickelson. As far as preparation goes, however, Harrington can play in Mickelsons league.
 
He has now won two consecutive British Opens and if theres a favorite in this Tiger Woods-less field, it probably has to be Harrington, who has moved up to No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings.
 
Harrington loves to be the underdog, anything to detract from the notion that he should play well; that he should win; that he should be thought of as, perhaps, the second best player in the world.
 
So it was easier for him to dwell on the Euro drought than it was for the feistier Poulter.
 
I think over the last 10 years, maybe the last 15 years, theres been a little bit of lull in European golf in terms of winning majors, Harrington said. So thats why there hasnt been such great form in the PGA. But obviously there are plenty of good European players around now. And there are plenty of them capable of winning.
 
Harrington, it must be pointed out, is the only European to win a major championship of any kind in this century. Yes, apart from his two Open Championship victories, you have to go all the way back to 1999 to find another Euro ' Scotlands Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie ' in the winners circle at a major.
 
Harrington was also 4-1 in the five matches he played at the Ryder Cup here four years ago. Spains Sergio Garcia will have to have the putting week of his life on these difficult greens is he is to win his overdo first major. Englands Paul Casey, long and strong and in form, is a Euro longshot.
 
So psst.Euros: The time is now.
 
To repeat: Tiger isnt here.
 
This may be glorys last shot for you for a long time to come.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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