Americans looking to end record winless streak in majors

JOHNS CREEK, Georgia, (Reuters) – After an  unprecedented run of six successive majors without a winner from  the United States, leading American golfers are hoping the PGA  Championship ends the barren run — even if bookmakers think it  unlikely.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is the favourite for this  year’s tournament while Britain’s world number one Luke Donald  is second-favourite alongside compatriot Lee Westwood.

To add to the sense that the tournament, formed by and for  the U.S.’s professionals, is becoming the property of  international players, Germany’s Martin Kaymer enters today’s  first round as the defending champion.

Tiger Woods

No American has won the PGA since Tiger Woods in 2007 with  Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and South Korea’s Yang Yong-eun  victorious in 2008 and 2009. There has, however, been little soul-searching or agonising  in the U.S. golf fraternity where the consensus is that success  in the sport goes in cycles and that the increased globalisation  of the game makes more winners from around the globe inevitable.     “I think it says a lot about the international players,”  says David Toms, PGA Championship winner in 2001, the last time  the tournament was held at The Atlanta Athletic Club.

“I know there are a lot of good, young American players that  are just waiting to get that first big event and go on to bigger  and better things. I don’t think it is a lack of American talent  It’s just, well, how many foreign players are there?
“The odds are one of them is going to have the chance to  win,” he said.

YOUNG STARTERS      
Another factor, highlighted by the emergence of Japan’s  19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa and 18-year-old Italian Matteo  Manassero, is that foreign players are getting professional  experience much earlier than Americans who usually go through  college before turning pro.

“Overseas it is different. Guys are turning pro at a very  young age and getting way more experience than we ever had  playing professional golf and they’re better earlier than even  my generation,” said Woods, who at 21 became the youngest man  win the U.S. Masters.

Also, the days when European players would come to the U.S.  with little experience of the very different conditions have  long since gone with the PGA Tour itself now attracting  performers from all over the globe on a regular basis.

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