Notebook: Lack of Australian major winners a mystery, says Norman

Greg Norman
Getty Images
Greg Norman says the dearth of Austrlian winners of majors in recent years is unacceptable.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | 6:32 p.m.

BETHESDA, Md. -- Considering the number of good players coming from Down Under, Geoff Ogilvy is the only Australian since 1995 to win a major.

Aussie icon Greg Norman, who won two majors, is puzzled by the lack of majors. Then again, it's not just Australia.

Sweden has never produced a male major champion. The last Englishman to win a major was Nick Faldo in 1996. Spain's last major was more than a decade ago.

''The simple answer to that is no, it's not an acceptable strike rate considering the talent and the capabilities of the Australian players we have out there,'' Norman said in a conference call last week. ''There's a slew of them. But you can look at other countries, too, that haven't really done it. Sweden, you probably have more players on a global basis of that caliber than any outside of the United States, and they haven't done it. Then you look at Northern Ireland where you have back-to-back years with two guys.

''Why does it happen? Why the void? I have no answer because it doesn't make sense to me, because the players are good enough to do it on a regular basis,'' he said. ''But when you think about it, you've got all these great players around the world and there's only four golf tournaments per year. So there's only going to be four winners. You can see the odds are getting harder and harder.''
 
YEAR OF THE COMEBACK: No lead appears safe on the PGA Tour this year, particularly if the leader is going for his first win. Marc Leishman, who closed with a 62 at the Travelers Championship, became the fifth player to come from at least six shots behind on the last day to win.

The trend began in January when Brandt Snedeker came from seven shots back with a 67 to win a playoff over Kyle Stanley, who made triple bogey on his last hole for 74. A week later, Stanley rallied from eight shots behind with a 65 to beat fast-fading Spencer Levin.

John Huh came from seven shots back in Mexico with a 63 and won in a playoff over Robert Allenby. The 54-hole leader, Daniel Summerhays, closed with a 73. The other comeback winner was Phil Mickelson, who was six behind Charlie Wi and closed with a 64 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

In each case, the 54-hole leaders had never won on the PGA Tour. Last week in Cromwell, Conn., the 54-hole leaders were Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis, neither of whom has won on tour.

The last 54-hole leader to hold on for the win was Jason Dufner at the Byron Nelson Championship on May 20.

BEAU IS BACK: Beau Hossler never imagined he would be back at Congressional so soon.

A year ago, Hossler qualified for the U.S. Open at age 16 and missed the cut. He made it through both stages of qualifying again this year, and then turned heads at The Olympic Club when he was atop the leaderboard briefly in the third round of the U.S. Open. Hossler was only four shots out of the lead going into the final round, but he stumbled on Sunday and wasn't even low amateur.

Even so, his performance was enough to get a sponsor's exemption for the AT&T National, which returned to Congressional this year.

No one knew him last year. Now they do.

''I think I'm a little bigger name this year than last year,'' Hossler said. ''But it's really great because especially at Olympic, I had a ton of supporters and fans, and it was really awesome to hear their roars any time I hit a pretty good shot.''

Hossler recently found out that he is known outside the golf course, too. Like the time he was buying a pair of socks.

''I'll tell you what, I was buying socks at Macy's the other day and some person didn't believe that it was me,'' he said. ''So I had to show them my ID. It's pretty cool, though, because a lot of people know who I am now, being stopped in airports and everything, taking pictures. ... You really wouldn't expect the guy from Jack in the Box to recognize me, but they kind of do now. So it's definitely different.''

Hossler said he had no plans to turn pro, and insists he will stay all four years when he goes to Texas.

Patrick Cantlay, a freshman at UCLA last year when he was low amateur at the U.S. Open, also said he was staying in college until he graduated. He turned pro last week and missed the cut.
 
DIVOTS: Alan Dunbar is the latest player from Northern Ireland to capture a big prize. The 23-year-old from Portrush won the British Amateur over the weekend at Royal Troon. He follows Graeme McDowell winning the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Rory McIlroy winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and Darren Clarke winning the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George's. Dunbar's win gets him into the British Open, Masters and U.S. Open. ... Six-time major champion Nick Faldo has been selected to receive the 2012 Ambassador of Golf Award, given to a person who has contributed to golf on an international level. The award is presented by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities and will be given to Faldo at Firestone during the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. ... Bubba Watson leads the PGA Tour in driving distance and greens in regulation. Since the tour began keeping track of these statistics in 1980, no one has led both categories in the same season. ... The winner of the money list on the new PGA Tour Latinoamerica will be recognized with the Roberto de Vicenzo Award, named for the first Argentine to win a major.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The winner of the past three tournaments at Congressional had scores of 268 (Rory McIlroy), 267 (Tiger Woods) and 268 (Anthony Kim).

FINAL WORD: ''It's getting harder and harder for him to win because the older he gets, the younger everybody else gets. And the younger they get, the less intimidated they are by him.'' - Greg Norman on Tiger Woods.