Cast your mind back to the Masters in 2017. Sergio García and Justin Rose – at that time, two of Europe’s finest golfers – are neck-and-neck on the Sunday. It needed a thrilling play-off to separate the pair. And, after replaying the 18th hole, it was the Spaniard being fitted for the sought-after Green Jacket. It marked back-to-back victories for a European at the Masters too; Sheffield’s Danny Willett stunning the field in 2016. So, how does it look for the Masters 2020?
Well, a European native hasn’t even come close to tasting victory since Garcia in 2017; Patrick Reed winning his first (and still to this day only) major in 2018. Tiger Woods then buttoned up his fifth Green Jacket last year. So, this year, the bookies are backing another American winner in the form of Bryson DeChambeau. The US Open winner is the current favourite in the US Masters odds. Aside from Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, the rest of the market leaders are all from the US.
That includes Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, and Brooks Koepka.
Moreover, America’s dominance spreads throughout all of the stateside majors – not just at Augusta National. Collin Morikawa’s PGA Championship victory and DeChambeau’s recent US Open triumph made it 10 straight US-based major titles for Americans. It’s now almost 50 years since America enjoyed such dominance in their native majors. In fact, another victory from a US golfer in the upcoming Masters would match the 11-straight titles won by Americans during the mid-70s.
Hale Irwin got the ball rolling with success in the 1974 US Open. Three years later, Lanny Wadkins capped off the 11 titles in a row with victory in the 1977 PGA Championship. In recent history, however, Europeans had their own spell of dominance on US soil. In 2010 and 2011, Northern Irish golfers Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy recorded back-to-back wins in the US Open. Rose and Martin Kaymer, meanwhile, also had their names engraved on the trophy in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Since the German golfer’s victory, Americans have gone on to win it every year. And it was DeChambeau’s victory that made it six in a row.
Over in the PGA Championship, Irishman Pádraig Harrington’s victory in 2008 was the start of four European triumphs in seven years; McIlroy (2) and Kaymer (1) notching the other three. Not since Aussie Jason Day won it in 2015, however, has a non-American come out on top.
Finally, and at Augusta National, Europeans struggle to get a stronghold on the Masters. Since the turn of the millennium, Willett (2016) and García (2017) are the only European’s to get their hands on a Green Jacket. In fact, Willett’s victory was the first time a European had won the Masters since José María Olazábal’s second triumph in 1999. It was also the first time an English golfer won the competition since Sir Nick Faldo in 1996.
2016, however, was a good year for Europeans – and Britons in particular; Willett topping the leaderboard, with Lee Westwood tied in second, Paul Casey T4th, Matthew Fitzpatrick T7th, and Rose and McIlroy were slightly further back at T10. With García and Rose the first two names on the final leaderboard in 2017, the top 10 also featured Thomas Pieters (Belgium), Paul Casey (England) and McIlroy (Northern Ireland).
If American dominance on home soil is to be ended at the Masters 2020, it could come down to Rahm or McIlroy. Still searching for his first major title, world number two Rahm – who recently finished second at the Zozo Championship in California – has featured in the top 10 for the last two years; a fourth-placed finish in 2018 his best finish to date.
McIlroy, on the other hand, has featured in the top 10 every year since 2014 – with the exception of a torrid T21 last year. So, if he can continue that kind of form, he could be there or thereabouts come 15 November. And maybe Masters 2020 could be the year that a six-year major drought is put to bed!