The Americans will bounce back once they’ve accumulated some of the knowledge of winning that Tiger’s 30 per cent seems to have denied them. Dustin Johnson, at 27, has started winning the bigger PGA Tour events and has been right in contention in the 2010 US Open, the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2011 Open Championship. A Major can’t be far away. Then there’s Rickie Fowler whose tie for fifth at the Open and runner-up finish in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational added further fuel to the fire of those who argue that a substantial triumph is on the cards for the 22 year old.
”I like my chances. I need to work on the first win. It’s more something I feel like has to fall into place, you know, not something where I can go out and try and force the issue. I can’t go out there and push myself to win. It’s something where I just focus on playing well, something I’ve been doing lately, and if it’s my time to win, it’s my time,” says Fowler, who believes he won’t be the only young American to emerge.
”There’s a really good young group of players in the US, guys who are playing right now and some guys that are about to turn pro in the next couple of year, so the young generation of golf in the US is strong. If a few guys get some wins under their belts we’re going to have some good players. Dustin Johnson is one of my favourite players to watch play as a young American. Nick Watney has a few wins under his belt, Bill Haas, and then younger guys. There are some good young players coming out. I was telling people in the last couple of years that there are a couple of guys in college that are going to make some noise real soon; there’s been a couple to win some Nationwide events and a couple of others who are playing well. Peter Uihlein, Morgan Hoffmann, Kevin Tway… Russell Henley’s won a Nationwide event; Harris English won a Nationwide event: both were amateurs.”
Lee Westwood himself has no doubt that American golfers will soon be back to winning their share of Majors. “European golf is very strong at the moment and we’ve played well in the right events. The Americans are playing well as well, they played well at the Open; it’s just a matter of time before it goes full circle,” he says.
All that is left to wonder is just how much more global the game will have become by the time that circle is completed, which of the first-time top-level champions might emerge from this period in the way that Player and Palmer did in the late 1950s… and the fact that the 12 first-time victors among the PGA Tour’s 37 regular season events represent Tiger’s number: 30 per cent of the wins.