by Jeff Skinner
As the 75th Masters tees off today the big question is will Rory McIlroy hang on the win his first Masters. But for many others that like to think of The Masters as the premier golf tournament in America the questions is, Where are the Americans?
The leaderboard at The Masters looks more like an international summit meeting than it does an American golf tournament. You have to look all the way down to eighth place on the leaderboard until you come to the first American. Bo Van Pelt has the honor, or dishonor of low American at this point and sits six strokes behind McIlroy. How many of you took Van Pelt in the pool? Not too many I suppose.
Right behind Van Pelt there are two Americans with notable Masters resumes, Tiger Woods and Fred Couples but realistically they have only a very slim chance of keeping the green jacket in the states.
The Masters prides itself on including many international golfers and this year those golfers have flourished. In addition to Northern Irishmen McIlroy, five other countries are represented at the top of the leaderboard. Jason Day (T2) and Adam Scott (T6) are Australian. Charl Schwartzel (T2) hails from South Africa. K.J. Choi (T2) is Korean. Former Masters Champion Angel Cabrera (T2) is from Argentina and Luke Donald (T6) is English.
In the Masters since 2000 Americans have won seven times but six of them went to Tiger and Phil Mickelson, the other American to win was Zach Johnson. So where are the Americans? Plenty of them are sitting home watching on television like the rest of us. The change in the balance of power in golf has been hotly debated of late. There are only four Americans in the top ten in the World Golf Rankings and only nine in the top twenty. The Masters leaderboard represents that change in golf. While the Americans are good they no longer are the dominant force they were in the past.
Many American golf fans are a bit too nationalistic and discount non-Americans because they are just that. That’s a shame because the beauty of golf is that it can be played by anyone, anywhere. And lately the best in the world aren’t homegrown Americans. We all should welcome the international growth of the game and revel in the skills of the greatest golfers in the world playing in The Masters. After all, that’s just what Bobby Jones had in mind.