While many would tout this as the time of great European golf, golf has truly become the international sport. The focus may have recently shifted away from the Americans with the buzz around golfers like Tiger Woods going silent, but they are far from allowing the country to drop off quietly.
American golf has been tainted by the likes of Woods, who has taken the title, warranted or not, of the fallen star. The golfing scene in the States lingers on every mention of his name, positive or negative, knowing that his outings have been nowhere near the calibre of his play in years past.
While this month’s Frys.com Open was a disappointing attempt at a comeback as Tiger tied for 30th place, it overshadowed the win of Bryce Molder, an American. And so America is left searching for a new face of golf to fill his void. With British names like Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, and Lee Westwood dominating the headlines, the American talent is lost in the shuffle. There are no outspoken superstars, fewer media targets, just young golfers with great skill and a motivation to prove the American golfers are still a force to be reckoned with. With Tiger’s limited Tour schedule, the lanes have opened up for new faces to play for the wins normally assumed to be his.
At the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Disney World, Englishman Luke Donald might have won the tournament, but the Americans in the field certainly gave him a run. Justin Leonard and Tom Pernice, Jr finished only two shots behind Donald. While Donald is the current front runner in the PGA Player of the Year race, don’t count out Americans Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, who are right in the thick of the ballot after turning in solid performances. Simpson won two events, securing a second-place finish in the FedEx Cup standings, and Bradley won the 93rd PGA Championship.
After Bradley’s PGA Championship win, Bradley continues to prove himself a staying force in the game with a win at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and he leads in the point standings for next year’s USA Ryder Cup team to compete in Illinois. Joining Bradley are the fresh faces of Jason Dufner, who placed second at the PGA Championship this year, and Dustin Johnson, who won the Barclays, eager to maintain their staying power by securing a place on the team.
Also this week at the Korea Open, Rory McIlroy was beaten by the 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, American Rickie Fowler. Fowler bested McIlroy by six shots, finishing 16 under overall. American Bill Haas has also proved the mettle of the Stateside by winning the Tour Championship to secure the FedEx Cup title in late September. The top four in this year’s FedEx Cup standings were indeed American golfers.
Perhaps the quantity of Luke Donald’s purse this year is larger than any American’s, but the quality of the American side can absolutely rival that of Europe’s best golfers. Hidden for so many years under Tiger’s presence, these golfers are now being offered a chance to prove their grit and prove that American golfers on the PGA Tour are just as much a staying power as the well-known European names.