Considering the impressive recent record of Team Europe in Ryder Cup matches against the United States, it remains a surprising statistic that only one of their golfers has triumphed in the US Open since the Second World War.
Casey shoulders the hopes of a European win
Considering the impressive recent record of Team Europe in Ryder Cup matches against the United States, it remains a surprising statistic that only one of their golfers has triumphed in the US Open since the Second World War. Tony Jacklin is rightly proud of that distinction, earned in 1970 when he was the holder of the British Open's coveted Claret Jug, but it surely is time the Englishman is given some company on the honours board of what is traditionally the most difficult of the four major championships.
Padraig Harrington, winner of two British Opens and one US PGA title in the last two years, looked most likely to end the drought but the Irishman's alarming slump in form this season has seen the baton passed to Paul Casey. And Casey shoulders that burden willingly. The powerful Englishman, who counts a second triumph at Abu Dhabi among his three tournament wins this year, has climbed above Harrington as No 3 in the world rankings and believes a first major is now firmly on his radar.
Casey starts his latest challenge at Bethpage Black this morning in the best of company, having previous winners Geoff Ogilvy and Jim Furyk alongside him in one of the most attractive of the 52 groupings for the opening two rounds. Sergio Garcia, who, like Harrington, has been billed as a potential US Open champion, is an afternoon starter in the first round alongside two other strong overseas challengers Adam Scott (Australia) and Camilo Villegas (Colombia).
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, the most exciting youngster to emerge since Garcia, is intriguingly drawn with the equally promising young American Anthony Kim and Dustin Johnson. Ian Poulter, runner-up at last year's British Open and another who is widely tipped to win a major before long, will try not to be distracted by the interest in the marquee threeball behind him - Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera and Harrington, who between them hold all four major titles.