Since 92 ' the year of Englishman Nick Faldos last victory - the British has been won eight times by Americans. The others were won by Greg Norman and Nick Price, two internationals who live about a mile from each other in Florida. South African Ernie Els won one, who has homes in his native country, London and also Florida.
Oh yes' the British was won in 1999 by a true Briton, Paul Lawrie of Scotland. He is the only Brit to triumph in the last 11 years.
Its one of the great mysteries of golf, the British Open. It is played every year on a links course, said to be a British staple. Yet, a foreigner comes in and repeatedly wins it. Darren Clarke hasnt won one. Neither has Irishman Padraig Harrington. Colin Montgomerie? Nope. How about Lee Westwood or Ian Woosnam? Nope, again.
What is so baffling about this statistic is that Europe has made a habit of beating America in the Ryder Cup of late. The U.S. has only captured three wins in the last nine matches. Those matches, incidentally, arent played on links courses, even when Europe hosts. Even when played in Britain, theyve been contested at The Belfry, decidedly non-links, almost American in playability. The Cup was played in 97 at Valderrama in Spain ' also non-links. You have to go all the way back to 1977, to Royal Lytham, to find a real links course hosting the Cup.
But, Europe does quite well in those matches. On courses which play as links layouts, though, the Europeans ' and the British ' cant seem to buy a win.
Why? Why do Americans, who just might as well be playing on the moon, traditionally succeed on the links layouts? John Daly has won only four times in America, but he won at St. Andrews. Ben Curtis has never won on this side of the pond, but he won last year at Royal St. Georges. Tom Lehman? Four wins in America, and one at Lytham. Justin Leonard, Mark OMeara, Tiger Woods, David Duval and Curtis have been among the last six American winners in the British.
Only Lawrie at Carnoustie in 99 snipped the American streak, and in that win, he had to beat Leonard ' and Frances Jean Van de Velde ' in a playoff only after the Frenchman's infamous final hole meltdown.
Youve got to wonder why the Europeans do so well on American-style courses, and the Yanks do so well on links layouts. Silly, isnt it?
The Americans, incidentally, dominated the Open during the 70s and early 80s. But that was when the U.S. had a corner on world golf. Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino were clearly the best players in the world during that time frame and would have been the champions even if the Open were held in a childrens sandbox. The latter half of the 80s and early 90s, the British dominated with Faldo and Sandy Lyle - augmented by a substantial dose of Spains Seve Ballesteros ' owning Her Majestys tournament.
But the past 13 years? It is a conundrum, a mystery, an impossibility. They win the Ryder Cup repeatedly when they shouldnt, plundering us on our favorite layouts. And we return the favor when it comes time for the British, time after time winning when it comes time to playing the links.
Thats golf, I guess the pundits would say. Thats the British Open.
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