Nationalism is a funny thing. We give so much more weight to people, places and events just because they happen to occur in our home country. (U-S-A! U-S-A!) In the golf world, commentators and observers are tying themselves in knots because a Euro came and worked over our national Open; not only that, our countrymen didn't even put up much of a fight. Between this and the Ryder Cup defeat, what's wrong with American golf?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh, sure, the fact that the two top Americans in the Open were Kevin Chappell and Robert Garrigus, guys whom you can be forgiven for hardly knowing, could be troublesome if you're getting too jingoistic.
But the growing conventional wisdom, that American golf is getting lapped by the Europeans because a. we don't spend enough money on golf instruction for our kids, b. our kids are fat and lazy from video games, or c. it's all Tiger's fault are just silly.
Look, let's be honest here: right at this very moment, the Europeans are kicking the Americans all over the course. Sure, McIlroy is leading the charge, but a quick look at the Official World Golf Rankings shows Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and others holding positions of power.
Meanwhile, you've got Woods and Phil Mickelson, for a decade-plus the standard-bearers of American golf, in a lull if not a downswing. Doesn't look too good for the old stars-and-stripes, does it?
Thing is, that kind of 50,000-foot overview misses the fact that we're just a couple holes away from an era of "new American dominance." Just think: if Dustin Johnson doesn't implode against Graeme McDowell in last year's U.S. Open, Bubba Watson manages to defeat Kaymer in the playoff at last year's PGA Championship, and anybody manages to win one more half-point at last year's Ryder, and we're smack-dab in the middle of talking about the resurgence of American golf. It's that close.
We're firmly in the post-Tiger era; he'll almost surely win again, but he'll never again be as dominant as he was before. Are we in the Rory era? Way too early to tell right now. This is a transitional time, one where any player (or any nationality) could seize dominance. No, the Americans aren't indisputably the best in the game right now. All that means is that we have to work a little harder to get back there.