Europes Weakest Link
The U.S. Open record books make a dismal reading for the British. Ted Ray, stunned by Ouimet in 1913, did take the title seven years later at the Inverness Club in Toledo but since then only Tony Jacklin has been successful. He led from the start to win by seven at Hazeltine in 1970 when he also happened to be the reigning British champion. It did not herald, however, a dramatic revival in European fortunes. Jacklins success remains the only European win in 82 years! Is it any wonder that you might be considered somewhat eccentric if you suggested there could be a British winner at Bethpage Park this year of the title all American professionals dream of winning?
Having said that, it is a fact that British players have come close in the past few seasons. Only a brilliant up-and-down from a bunker at the final hole on the final day prevented Nick Faldo from beating Curtis Strange at The Country Club, Brookline in 1988. Strange easily won the playoff. The following year Ian Woosnam had a go at bringing the trophy back across the Atlantic but failed by a shot at Rochester. Strange was the winner again.
More recently Colin Montgomerie came in third at Pebble Beach in 1992, pipped only by the fast finishing Tom Kite and often under-rated Jeff Sluman, then lost a playoff to Ernie Els at Oakmont six year later. In 1997 Monty battled all the way again at Congressional in Washington with Tom Lehman and Els who played a career best second shot to the 71st green which proved a winner again.
Closest any Continental European has come to winning recently was Miguel Angel Jimenez who was joint runner up to Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000. Going good but he and big Ernie Els were 15 back at the close.
Still if the record of British and European players makes dismal reading we can at least claim that the title is not beyond the reach of members of the European Tour. Els is not a member of the European Tour and has won twice. The defending champion this year is Retief Goosen who not only plays the European Tour full-time but was last years top Euro earner so it is not all that bad.
Yet why is it that Europeans seem to do so well at Augusta and so poorly at the U.S. Open? Perhaps the key to that lies in the way the United States Golf Association sets up their Championship tests. Those thick collars of rough around the greens are not what European players are used to. They perform better at Augusta because there are not collars. You have to be more imaginative around the greens, be adept at the traditional little Scottish chip-and-run. Significantly, Europeans have won the Masters 11 times since 1980.
Then there is the climate. It can be hot and steamy at a U.S. Open and the Europeans do not like playing golf in conditions in which their shirts stick to their backs and you perspire buckets simply walking to the tee. In Europe the weather is altogether more inclement. Didnt the Scots invent golf in order to enjoy a dram of the product the country is most famous for without feeling guilty? After suffering the wind and rain at St. Andrews, or Prestwick or Musselburgh, they had a ready made excuse for medical reasons to down a whisky or two or three
Looking for excuses, however, for European failure at the U.S. Open is pointless. The fact is that the top European Tour players, whether they are from Europe, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, or Asia, are golfing globetrotters. No golfing conditions, no course set-up should ever faze them. The worldwide European Tour starts each year in Asia moves on to South Africa and Australia, heads back to Asia and the Middle East before it finally comes home. The Tour does not even hit Britain until Week 18!
My point is that Europeans, most of who do manage to play a number of events in America, early in the season anyway, really are capable of playing any course. Maybe it is only matter of time before a European manages to do what Goosen did last year at Southern Hills.
A hundred years ago at Garden City, N.Y., when the entry incidentally was a modest and manageable 90, it was Scot Laurie Auchterlonie from St Andrews who walked off with the first prize, preventing in the process fellow Scot Willie Anderson from winning five years in a row.
Those were the days before Ouimet when the men from across the pond dominated the event. It is different now but you can be sure the Europeans in the field this year will come as determined as ever to take the title. They will take no notice of the historical facts and figures. After all, to any European winning the American national championship comes second only to being a member of a winning Ryder Cup side on U.S. soil. There is one problem, one reason, however, why the Europeans might have to wait another year for a much-needed U.S. Open win. He is a bit older that Francis Ouimet. His name is Tiger Woods.
CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):
Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)
Notables in the field
* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.
* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.
* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.
* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.
* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.
* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.
* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.
* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.
* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.
* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.
* This is his first start of 2018.
* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.
(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)
Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener
Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder
12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson
11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson
11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker
1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas
Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone
It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.
Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.
The reward now?
''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''
''Bones, don't ever do that again.''
Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.
And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.
And not the Masters.
He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.
''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.
Except for that first week in April.