Never mind the World Cup and 44 years of hurt for England’s football team. It has been 40 years since Scunthorpe’s Tony Jacklin became the only Brit to win the US Open since Scotland Willie Macfarlane in 1925. There are a record 13 English golfers at Pebble Beach among 37 Europeans trying to join Jacklin’s exclusive club. “It’s time I had some company,” Jacklin said. “That club feels just too bloody exclusive.”

Five of the Europeans are in world’s top ten led by Lee Westwood (world no.3) and supported by Luke Donald (no.6), Ian Poulter (no.8), Paul Casey (no.9) and Rory McIlroy (no.10).

All of them of course say it’s just a coincidence that Europe has such a poor record at the US Open. “Obviously Faldo and Monty had a couple of good chances,” Westwood said. “And I did at Torrey Pines (he finished 3rd in 2008). But if you don’t finish it off, you don’t deserve to win. We’ve got a record number of competitors in the field this week so it seems like a good percentage to have another decent chance.”

Rory McIlroy
hadn’t even seen Pebble Beach before until he arrived on Monday. Well, that is if you don’t count video games. “Yeah, I’ve played it hundred of times,” he said. “I’ve shot in the fifties plenty of times. I can guarantee that’s not going to happen this week,” he said laughing. “It’s a lot easier on PlayStation.”

Both Westwood and McIlroy will play the first two rounds in the company of former champions. The Englishman partners Tiger Woods and Ernie Els while the Northern Irishman gets to walk with Tom Watson, as well as Ryo Ishikawa. Maybe some magic winning formula will be sprinkled over them. “Patience is the key,” McIlroy said.

Europe’s golfers have been patient for long enough. Urgency is needed to find another winner. If only for poor Jacklin’s sake.

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