Earlier this week, Ian Poulter caused a bit of a kerfluffle when he boasted -- perhaps joking, perhaps not -- that the era of American dominance in golf was over, and that this was Europe's time to shine.
Well, the Open has come and gone, and Europe is second-best, yet again, only this time it's to South Africa. And while Euros dominate the very top of the British Open leaderboard, a wave of young American not-yet-stars are lurking.
Consider these names: Sean O'Hair, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, JB Holmes. All Americans, all finished within sight of -- well, at least of the second-place finishers at the Open. (Nobody was catching Louis Oosthuizen.) And Anthony Kim missed this event because of surgery, but you've got to figure he's right there in the mix too.
Sure, they're not Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson -- not yet, anyway -- but the fact remains that there are plenty of quality U.S. golfers ready to take that next step -- "ready" being the key word. All of these cats have shown the ability to lead at some point during big tournaments; the key, of course, is to be the last guy standing walking off 18.
Yes, three of the last four majors have been won by non-Americans, but that's too small of a sample size. Dating to 1995, when uber-American John Daly won the British, 11 of the 16 Open Championships have flown back across the pond. The Yanks have similar track records in the other three majors. Golf in America may be in a slight lull for the moment, but the future of the game in the States is in good hands.
Oh, and Poulter? He finished T60, in the 20-shots-off-the-lead range. Make of that what you will.
(The young lady being hoisted there is John Daly's companion Anna Cladakis. Salute the flag, gents.)