Europe dominating the world of golf

By Randall MellJanuary 19, 2012, 7:46 pm

It’s wrong to say there is not a dominant force in the men’s game today.

Europe is it.

With the 2012 season under way, this is Europe’s world now, the Americans are just living in it.

The trending makes you wonder if the PGA Tour money title will soon be decided by euros rather than dollars.

Look at most every meaningful measure of excellence, and Europe is leading the way.

The Euros have planted their flag deep in the Official World Golf Ranking with the new season under way.

The top four players are all from across the Atlantic.

Three different Europeans have held the top spot since Tiger Woods surrendered his post. They have monopolized the No. 1 ranking for more than a year now (64 consecutive weeks). In that regard, a record Euro run might be in the making. If they continue to hold the top spot through May 20, it will mark Europe’s longest hold on No. 1 since the world rankings were created in 1986. It would give the Euros 82 consecutive weeks at the top of the rankings.

This week, there are more Europeans than Americans in the top 10 of the world rankings (Euros, 4; USA, 3), more in the top 20 (Euros, 9; USA, 7) and more in the top 50 (Euros, 21; USA, 17).

What’s that? You don’t like world rankings as a measure of excellence? How about money titles? Europe’s Luke Donald won both the PGA Tour and European Tour money crowns last year.

Sure, you say, but major championships are the ultimate measure of success.

OK, the Euros are establishing a strong entrenchment in major championship turf, too.

If a European wins the Masters this spring, it will be the continent’s fifth major championship triumph in the last eight majors played. In 78 years of the modern major setup, Europe has never won that many titles in an eight-major run. Even in Europe’s golden era, with Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam winning majors, Europe never did that.

Just two Americans have won the last eight majors.

Of course, there is also the Ryder Cup to examine, the most direct head-to-head competition between Europe and the United States. When the matches are played at Medinah in the fall, Europe will be going for its fifth victory in the last six Ryder Cups, its seventh in the last nine.

With Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy joining Donald as PGA Tour members this year, Europe has a chance to plant its flag on PGA Tour turf like it has never done before.

We’ll see a lot more of Westwood and McIlroy with Donald in American events. There’s also Graeme Mcdowell, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson to watch as part of a European contingent looking to win its first FedEx Cup jackpot.

These things go in cycles, and there are some important factors in looking to see if Europe will show staying power with the youth coming up in its ranks.

The most dominant Americans of the recent past are getting older. Tiger Woods is 36, Phil Mickelson 41 and Steve Stricker 44. Europe’s most dominant aren’t so old. Luke Donald is 34, Lee Westwood 38, Martin Kaymer 27 and Rory McIlroy 22.

Among the players under 30 in the European ranks, McIlroy, Kaymer, Alvaro Quiros, Francesco Molinari, Matteo Manassero and Tom Lewis offer possibilities for sustaining future runs.

Among players under 30 in the American ranks, there are Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler and Bud Cauley offering possibilities for starting something new.

As for now, though, Europe is setting the pace in nearly every way.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."