Can England cap great summer with PGA win?
By Stan Awtrey, PGA.com Contributor
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s been a great summer for British athletes.
Justin Rose began the run of success when he won the U.S. Open at Merion. Andy Murray took the baton and carried it to the winner’s circle at Wimbledon. A couple weeks later, Chris Froome won the Tour de France.
So whose turn is it this week at the PGA Championship?
A victory by a Brit this week might be big enough news to knock newborn Prince George off the front page of the tabloids. In fact, no player from Great Britain has won the PGA Championship since James Barnes was victorious in 1919, just the second time the event was played.
A leader among the British contingent is Ian Poulter, fresh off a final-round charge that put him in contention at the Open Championship. Poulter, who never lacks for confidence, is playing in his 12th PGA Championship and tied for third in 2012 at Kiawah Island.
“I expect to be able to put myself in position to have a chance to win these big tournaments and that comes from within,” Poulter said. “I’d like to put myself under that pressure and continue to do so, because it makes me work harder to be able to try and achieve getting my name on one of these big trophies.”
Poulter has finished among the top 10 in seven major championships. His best was second at the 2008 Open Championship and ties for third at the 2012 PGA and the 2013 Open Championship.
“I guess I haven’t been close enough come Sunday morning,” Poulter said. “I’ve had three good runs at it now and every time I’ve just been a couple of shots away. So it’s about staying focused for 18 holes and trying not to make those silly mistakes and trying to find myself in a better position come Sunday morning.”
Poulter has company among his countrymen who could contend this week. There are a handful of English players capable of breaking through. Here are five others:
Lee Westwood: A former world No. 1, Westwood has a recent history of good play at the PGA Championship. He tied for third in 2009 and tied for eighth in 2011. But his inability to close has prevented him from winning a major; he’s 0-for-62. “I think it’s all coming together,” Westwood said.
Justin Rose: It’s been feast or famine in the PGA Championship for Rose. He’s played in the event 10 times and missed the cut in half of them. The other five include two top-10s, including a tie for third in 2012, and three other top-25s.
Luke Donald: The former world No. 1 might be flying under the radar after missing the cut at the Open Championship and the Canadian Open. His best finish at the PGA Championship was a tie for eighth in 2011 at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Paul Casey: His promising career was derailed by injuries (collarbone, shoulder) and personal issues. He was ranked as high as sixth in the world in 2009 before dropping out of sight. But the personable Casey seems to be on the road back. He won the Irish Open this year and has improved his ranking, which began the year at No. 123, back to No. 95. His best finish in the PGA Championship was 12th in 2010.
David Lynn: Probably the biggest longshot of the group. He made his PGA Championship and American debut last year and wound up finishing second at Kiawah. Lynn took the opportunity to play the PGA Tour this year and was second at the Wells Fargo Championship, losing in a playoff to Derek Ernst.
International players have fared well at the PGA Championship. Over the last five years, four winners have come from overseas: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Martin Kaymer of Germany, Y.E. Yang of Korea and Padraig Harrington of Ireland.