Golf

Rory McIlroy leads Augusta search for a European Master

Published Add your comment

Football News
24/7

It's about time a European won the Masters.

It was well documented after his 2013 win that Adam Scott had finally ended the Australian hoodoo at Augusta National by becoming the first man from his country to claim a prestigious Green Jacket. 

The legendary Greg 'The Shark' Norman had gone close - extremely close in fact - before a final-round meltdown allowed Sir Nick Faldo to steal in and claim his third and last Masters crown almost 20 years ago. 

In 2011 Scott and Jason Day threatened. Day, alongside Marc Lieshman - who may turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan professional - narrowly missed out again last year, although that was unsurprisingly overlooked Down Under following Scott's heroics.  

But one thing that can't go unnoticed is the effect Scott's win has had on his compatriots, who have five wins on the PGA Tour this year following Steven Bowditch's maiden win in Texas was followed up by Matt Jones' incredible playoff victory over an increasingly frail Matt Kuchar at last week's Shell Houston Open. 

Now, Europe needs something similar. It's been 15 years since someone from these shores triumphed in Georgia. Jose Maria Olazabal, almost 20 years after his fellow countryman and best friend Seve Ballesteros claimed his first Masters win, capped a fine two decades for European golf at the National with his two-shot win over Davis Love III in 1999.

In '94 he joined the likes of Ballesteros, Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam in tasting success on what most players describe as the best golf course on the planet. 

But that's a long time ago now, before the era of utter dominance by Tiger Woods, and ever since Olazabal's second Masters victory in '99, no European has felt what it is like to slide their hand into the most sought-after jacket on Earth. 

With Woods absent due to a back problem and seemingly no one totally equipped to dominate the game like he used to, as well as it being a Ryder Cup year, it's time for that to change. 

And there a host of candidates that undoubtedly want victory this week more than anything. 

Rory McIlroy is one of them, especially after his Norman-like round of 80 in 2011 cost him a four-shot lead and along with it, his first major title. We all know he recovered from that, emphatically, with two eight-shot wins in the US Open and US PGA. 

But the Masters is the ultimate pinnacle for anyone who's had the joy of picking up a club, walking 18 holes and loving every minute of it. Just because he's won two others, that feeling doesn't disappear. 

After a forgettable 2013, McIlroy's looked confident, focused and most importantly of all happy at every appearance he's made this year. His stunning five-wood approach at the Honda Classic may not have been good enough for victory that time around, but it served as a reminder to everyone of the talents in his locker. 

Likewise for Sunday's 65 in Houston. He's driving the ball better than he arguably ever has done, and if he can hit as many fairways and greens as he has done this year, he will only need a hot putter to join his last Ryder Cup captain in the champion's locker room. 

From an English perspective, there's always the hope that Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood or Justin Rose will contend. 

After Rose's major victory breakthrough at Merion last year, he no longer has a monkey on his back - but the other three do. Donald has previously contended at Augusta, most notably in 2011 when he chipped in at the last before Charl Schwartzel's finish of four consecutive birdies took the title beyond everyone, but ever since he became the first golfer to win both money list's either side of the Atlantic, he has struggled with different aspects of his game and his previously reliable short game has deserted him on occasions. 

Poulter it seems need only pretend he's playing the whole of America to muster the passion and grit needed for major victory, but that continues to elude. He has the game, unquestionably, but his best finish in Augusta remains the seventh place he achieved two years ago. His best finish in one of the big four is second - which, as I'm sure he'd tell you, is first loser. 

Westwood, since 2010, has always faired well at the Masters and he'll be looking to build on an improved if not spectacular 17th placed finish at last week's event that included three rounds under and one at level par. The majority of the golfing world is crying out for Westwood to put his nearly-man title having finished runner-up or third in what seems like every major this side of the Millennium. Slightly over exaggerated, admittedly, but it seems more like a gorilla, rather than a monkey, clambering on his shoulders. 

2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell, composed and assured as ever in his pre-tournament media arrangements, and Sergio Garcia, will also fly the flag for Europe this week - both with an equal chance of success. Garcia looked well on his way to a first win of 2014 in Houston before he reminded himself he's Sergio Garcia and thus, threw away a four-shot halfway lead. No one has ever lifted both titles consecutively, so he may look at that as a positive.

It's certainly nice to see him describe himself as in the "best place he's been for almost six years" following those two opening rounds last week - a far cry from the same Spaniard who admitted after one Augusta round that he'd "probably never win a major". 

It's true that American's find it easier to conquer the National. It is, after all - just like two of the other majors - hosted in their own country. 

But European's have thrived on the hallowed turf once before. With McIlroy and co in attendance, there's no reason why that can't happen again. 

Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms

Topics:
Golf
Sergio Garcia
US Masters
Lee Westwood
Justin Rose
Rory McIlroy

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author

DISCLAIMER

This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again