European’s Leading the Way to Augusta
The first major golf championship of the year is almost upon us as we edge closer to the 2019 Masters. There is just one stroke play event remaining before the players head to Augusta and that will be played at the Texas Open in San Antonio, one week prior to The Masters.
A look at recent winners of The Masters shows two of the three previous victors have come from Europe. Danny Willett won in 2016 following the collapse of Jordan Spieth in the final round and Spain’s Sergio Garcia triumphed in 2017 to great fanfare.
The United States got back on top last year however, as Patrick Reed won The Masters with an impressive 15 under par, one stroke ahead of the runner-up, Ricky Fowler. Still, there were only three American golfers in the top seven places at the 2018 Masters and we could be set for further disappointment for the home golfers this year.
One glance at the past three PGA Tour events prior to the World Golf Championship Dell Match Play shows three wins for European golfers. Francesco Molinari won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy won The Players Championship and Paul Casey won the Valspar Championship, retaining the title he won last year.
That means European golfers have won three PGA Tour events in a row for the first time in seven years.
The only American golfer to hold his own over the course of the same period has been Dustin Johnson. The official world number one finished T5 at The Players Championship and T6 at the Valspar Championship. Johnson won the World Golf Championships in Mexico and has a T9 and T4 at two other PGA Tour events this year.
However, Johnson will not be happy with the way his tournament ended at the Valspar Championship, failing to register a single birdie as he dropped away with a final score of 74.
The defending Masters champion, Patrick Reed is yet to finish inside the top 10 this year and Justin Thomas appears to have faded after making a strong start. The current PGA and US Open champion, Books Koepka has just two top 20’s to his name in 2019 and Jordan Spieth is still struggling to come close to the form which saw him win The Masters in 2015.
Form in the Florida swing of the PGA Tour does not always translate to success at Augusta but for the leading American players, their current form must be of concern. Winning tournaments breeds confidence and that’s exactly what you need heading into the first major of the season.
Since the turn of the century, only two European golfers have won The Masters. Come the end of the 2019 edition, we could have seen three European winners in four years. This could be a huge year for European golf.