LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Two-time major winner Tony Jacklin has offered his own opinion as to why golfers from this side of the Atlantic continue to struggle.
Two-time major winner Tony Jacklin has offered his own opinion as to why golfers from this side of the Atlantic continue to struggle in the big events.
It is by no means rocket science but officials from the European Tour will not have thanked him for it.
In 30 consecutive majors Europeans have failed to win in a run dating back to Paul Lawrie’s victory in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie – which hosts the tournament again this year.
Jacklin, winner of the 1969 Open and 1970 US Open, has based himself in the United States and his formula for success in the majors – three of the four are held in America – is simple. Move.
“Ultimately, it comes down to self-belief, inner confidence, and feeling like you belong. The more often that you play here, the more you gain on that score,” said Jacklin.
“It is very difficult to come here and do it with a hit-and-run. One of the keys to my success was that I made this (America) my main tour. The guys who live here are comfortable with the way of life. They don’t have to adjust.
“The American tour is more uniform in the conditions that it provides on a weekly basis.
“Europe is far more interesting because you play a bigger variety of courses, but I’m not sure that a bigger variety of courses and weather conditions is the best way to prepare for majors in America.”
With the golfing globe becoming increasingly smaller and the competition between both main tours growing, European chiefs will hope Jacklin’s advice is taken with a pinch of salt.
Top players already divide their time between Europe and America but they are under pressure to commit to one or the other – with Ernie Els’ high-profile dispute a couple of years ago with the PGA Tour about how many events he should play in the USA a case in point.
The attraction of the European Tour is the variety it offers – already this season it has visited Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and even mainland Europe (Portugal).
They have to cover so much ground in order to be able to compete with their American rival but it can involve a huge amount of travelling across several time zones and that is not always helpful to players’ preparations.
Take Els again, for instance. A weather delay at the Heritage tournament in South Carolina meant he did not finish his final round until late on Monday. He then hopped on a plane to take him to the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai.
The South African is one of the world’s most travelled golfers but, at the age of 37, time may be catching up with him.
He has won only twice in the last 16 months and both victories have been in his homeland while his record in the majors is even more disappointing.
Since 2004 – when he had four top-10 finishes, including two seconds – he has failed to replicate anything close to that form with his third place at the Open last year his only finish inside the top 15 in eight majors.
Some will argue his form has been affected by the knee injury sustained in the summer of 2005 but Els himself claims that is not part of the problem.
Henrik Stenson is the only European to have won in America so far, but he and fellow major contenders Paul Casey and Justin Rose have also registered wins on the European Tour.
Ironically, further down the scale there appears to be little wrong with the grounding golfers are getting.
Austrian Markus Brier’s victory in last week’s Volvo China Open was the 11th in 21 events – which includes one major, two World Golf Championships and the HSBC Champions tournament – by a former Challenge Tour player this season.
However, it is the next level which is the biggest and toughest challenge and which, certainly for the last seven years, has proved a step too far.
by Carl Markham, PA Sport>/i>
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