With the 2014 Masters only a matter of weeks away, Jake O'Reilly asks can a European finally end 15 years of hurt at Augusta National?
When Seve Ballesteros famously opened the floodgates in 1980, it seemed European success at The Masters would become as common as the sight of Tiger Woods in red on a Sunday.
And it was for a short while. Seve’s compatriot Joe Maria Olazabal climbed into the green jacket twice, before Nick Faldo went one better with a hat trick over seven years.
Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam and, of course, Sandy Lyle, all added their names to the history books, but since we ticked into the new millennium, the Europeans have been left wanting at Augusta National.
Americans have notched up eight wins, South Africans a pair, while the likes of Vijay Singh (Fiji) and Adam Scott (Australia) have done their countries proud.
So is 2014 the turn of a European to turn our reasonably dominant Ryder Cup record into a win over the 18 majestic holes in Georgia?
Well in my opinion, I’m afraid no, it’s not.
While Rory McIlroy may be the favourite with most bookmakers, he hasn’t got across the line in 2014, despite a number of gilt edge chances, and I think that will play on his mind around Augusta’s tough back nine, should he find himself in contention.
The next best Europeans are arguably the likes of Henrik Stenson, who has struggled to find any form in 2014; Sergio Garcia, who doesn’t seem to have the mental toughness when it matters most; and Justin Rose, whose early season has been plagued with injury.
Lee Westwood has good course form, and at 66/1 could be a good bet as an outsider, but again he joins the likes of Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell in the bracket of ‘not in form’.
If you’re the gambling type then my recommendation from a European point of view would be to place some money on the likes of Ian Poulter (61/1 to win) Jamie Donaldson (100/1) and Francesco Molinari (125/1), who have all enjoyed some recent form and tend to be strong off the tee and at hitting greens.
While I can’t quite see any of this trio having a good enough week around the greens to end 15 years of hurt, they can hopefully be in with a shout on Sunday.