Mon Mar 28 11:48am EDT
On Sunday at the Accenture Match Play, as Luke Donald was approaching the podium to speak on his big win, and the fact that four Europeans now were atop the world rankings for the first time since 1992, I noticed someone had placed some England flags in front of the trophy.
It was a fun little gesture for the winner, but clearly a premeditated plan; "make sure to have all the available European flags in case one of these guys win again." That sure seems to be the trend this season, and Martin Laird's victory on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational solidified the fact that if you're looking for the best golfers in the world right now, you better buy a plane ticket across the Atlantic.
Sure, names like Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter haven't exactly came out firing in 2011, but other names have made up for it. Donald was the first, taking home the early season major in Marana, and now Laird has added another European win at one of the top three events before the Masters. If not for Nick Watney at Doral, there might be a sweep now for the Euros in the early season money makers.
The Americans haven't been bad this season, with Steve Marino trying his hardest to derail Laird on Sunday before derailing himself, but if you're going to be picking Masters favorites, you'd have to look outside this country before you'd look inside it. Donald's a sneaky pick. Martin Kaymer is obviously someone you must focus on when filling out that Masters pool. And then you have the Poulters and the Caseys, who could turn it on like Phil Mickelson in 2010 and run away with their first major, something everyone seems to be 100 percent focused on at this point in the season.