June 1st, 2011 by Kristofer Anderson
Luke Donald defeated Lee Westwood to take the top spot in the World Golf Rankings, while a virtual unknown came from behind at the Colonial. The simple truth is that Europe is now home to the top players in the world, and they only appear to be getting stronger. It is a change that has been years in the making. Golf has become a global sport, shedding it’s elitist past and drawing in the masses from around the world. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have been successful for many years, but have recently elevated their games to a new level. Lee Westwood seems to find the top of the leaderboard on every Sunday at the big tournaments, and lately Donald seems to like first or second place a great deal. We must also remember Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, and Ian Poulter. Collectively these players are simply drowning out any American presence in nearly every tournament. In the last decade I can’t remember wanting to watch a European Tour event more than a PGA event outside of the British Open, it has now happened two weeks in a row. Many people in America have criticized Westwood, Donald and others for their playing schedule, which is absurd. They are simply being loyal to their home tour, which if anything should be praised.
Tiger Woods is now ranked 13th in the world, and as time goes on it is looking less likely that he will ever dominate as he once did. He may very well come back break Jack’s record of 18 majors and go down as the best golfer of all time, but the rest of the field will no longer fear him. For nearly a decade Tiger had most tournaments won before he hit the first shot on Sunday. There simply was not a single player that could take him on and beat him until Y.E. Yang did. Now if he finds his form he is going to be facing great golfers with plenty of confidence, a scary combination.
Phil Mickelson is the top ranked American at the moment at number four. Mickelson is still a great player but still struggles off the tee and is also getting on in years. His priorities have also shifted over the last couple of years towards his family. Mickelson will always have the ability to win a golf tournament when he is playing well, but he has never had the consistency to become a dominant golfer.
As much as it hurts to say, I just don’t see an American golfer at the moment that can challenge the European dominance. There are plenty of young players with talent and potential, Ricky Fowler would top my list, but they have not learned to win yet. Until they do I would expect Europeans to continue winning and dominating golf.