There are more Europeans (30) than ever before in the field (156) for the USPGA Championship, and with Padraig Harrington still flying high after his success in the Open last month, this must represent the best chance ever for the first Euro winner for 77 years. Ever since winning the Open, Harrington has suggested that now he has broken through, he sees no reason why the floodgates for European victories cannot be opened. “If that happens, I’m going to take the full credit for it,” he says smiling.
Apart from Harrington and Garcia, the two players who many are tipping are Lee Westwood and Nick Dougherty, and both were spotted late on Wednesday night, fine-tuning their putting. Westwood has played in this Championship for the past 10 years and has yet to record a top-10 finish. He has however, won this season on the European Tour [Valle Romano] and played solidly if not spectacularly to finish tied for 35th at Carnoustie.
Dougherty meanwhile is playing in only his third championship, having missed the cut in the past two years. And yet, his form, particularly while leading the US Open this year, suggests that his game really suits this sort of course. What’s more he really seems to be developing as a much more mature player nowadays, and has six top-10 finishes in Europe this season.
And yet, arguably the European with the best chance is 27-year-old Justin Rose, who was an impressive 2nd last week at the WGC-Bridgestone International. He has played in four USPGA Championships, with a best finish of 23rd in 2002.
Eyes will also be on Colin Montgomerie, the Scot who has so often just failed to cross the finishing line in majors. Monty has not been playing that well in recent months, missing the cut in all three majors so far this year, and the sweltering heat here in Tulsa may also play against him. And yet, what is not in doubt is that he will be giving it all, aware that time may be running out on him. What is also not in doubt is that back home in Britain there would be few more popular winners.
The full list of Europeans in alphabetical order is: Thomas Bjorn, Markus Brier, Paul Casey, Daniel Chopra, Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Nick Dougherty, Bradley Dredge, Simon Dyson, Johan Edfors, Niclas Fasth, Sergio Garcia, Anders Hansen, Soren Hansen, Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, Gregory Havret, David Howell, Raphael Jacquelin, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Graeme Storm, Anthony Wall and Lee Westwood.