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Golf: U.S. major win drought stokes fires at PGA

By Jim Slater

ATLANTA, August 10, 2011 (AFP) – American golfers know all too well that they are on a record win drought of six consecutive majors entering the 93rd PGA Championship, and some of them are fired up to do something about it.

World No. 5 Steve Stricker, the highest-ranked U.S. player, is desperate for his first major title after spending years as a perennial contender.

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “All the American players have probably thought about it. What has happened the last six majors fuels the fire of Americans to get better, work at it and try to break that streak, no doubt.”

Phil Mickelson, ranked sixth, is the most recent American to claim a major title with his victory in last year’s Masters.

If no American lifts the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, 2011 will be only the second year without a U.S. major winner, the other being 1994.

For some, the gap is just part of a cycle or carries little meaning.

“It’s the last six majors,” said American Dustin Johnson, ranked eighth in the world. “If you look at the last 10 years we’ve done pretty well. It just gives (reporters) something to talk about.”

Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the World No. 3 and 2010 PGA Championship winner, cites the impact of Irishman Padraig Harrington winning the 2007 and 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA Championship.

“The American players, why they haven’t won, I don’t know. I cannot even answer why we Europeans have won that much,” Kaymer said. “Padraig Harrington, he might have something to do with it when he started winning the majors.”

Some see a U.S. breakthrough this week because the Atlanta Athletic Club course sets up like a toughened version of a US PGA event, but Stricker doubts that notion.

“I really don’t think it favors one part of the world player over another,” Stricker said.

“I don’t think it really matters where you come from. It’s right in front of you. There are no tricks. You have got to suck it up on every shot and hit good shots. It’s that demanding.”

American David Toms, the 2001 PGA winner in Atlanta, said the growing number of top non-U.S. players on the U.S. PGA Tour and living in America is part of the reason.

But he warns that young American talents such as Rickie Fowler are on the cusp of making their breakthroughs as well.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of having that American talent,” Toms said. “I know there’s a lot of good young American players that are just waiting to get that first big event and go onto bigger and better things.

“It says a lot about the international players… they have had a nice little run.

“But I think we have a lot of American players. Once they break out and get that first win and then their buddy sees that they can do it, they want to do it, and I think it will be a snowball effect there.” ■

 

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