USPGA: The European Challenge Pt II
Last Updated: 08/08/07 10:00am
Harrington: Open champion
Profiles of the European representatives who will be teeing-up for the 89th USPGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Niclas Fasth (Swe) - 35. Played 6. Cuts: 3. Best: 10th (2003). The consistent Swede won two titles on the European Tour in both 2005 and 2006 and already has another to his credit in 2007 having walked away with the BMW International Open in Munich. That came straight after he finished as top European at the US Open and a second-place at the European Open also followed. But his form has tailed off a little of late and admitted he was struggling with his game at recent Bridgestone International. However, a fantastic competitor, he will never stop trying and does know how to win.
Sergio Garcia (Spa) - 27. Played 8. Cuts: 5. Best: 2nd (1999). You wonder just how much has been taken out of the Spaniard by his Open play-off defeat by Harrington. For three days he was a class apart at Carnoustie and looked nailed on end his search for a first major. However, his game unravelled on the Sunday and his putting, so often his Achilles heel, proved his downfall once again. The 'Belly Putter' looked to have steeled his nerves on the greens, but he couldn't hole a putt for love nor money during his final round and ultimately paid the price. He now needs to use that painful experience as a positive and the PGA provides the chance for him to get straight back in the saddle. It was in this event that he exploded on to the scene with his second place to Tiger Woods in 1999 and he now has 13 top-ten major finishes to his credit, including two more at the PGA in 2001 and 2006. It will be interesting to see how he fares with the spotlight back on him, but he has form at Southern Hills having finished tied for 12th in the 2001 US Open, and that could and should have been so much better had it not been for a forgettable final round 77.
Anders Hansen (Den) - 36. Played 3. Cuts: 1. Best: 24th (2006). The unassuming Dane won Europe's PGA title at Wentworth for the second time in six years in May to climb over 100 places in the world rankings just in time to earn a US Open debut at Oakmont. Steady rather than spectacular, his record at the USPGA is modest at best but has experience of playing in America having attended the University of Houston and enjoyed two victories on the collegiate scene.
Soren Hansen (Den) - 33. Played 1. Cuts: 1. Best: 43rd (2002). Although twice a runner-up on the European Tour this year, the Dane is perhaps best remembered for missing the Open Championship at Carnoustie last month after forgetting to send in an entry form. Made his USPGA debut at Hazeltine in 2002 where he finished tied for 43rd.
Padraig Harrington (Ire) - 35. Played 8. Cuts: 4. Best: 17th (2002). Padraig Harrington heads to Southern Hills still riding the crest of a wave following his Open Championship victory at Carnoustie last month - rarely can there have been a more popular or well-received winner than the 35-year-old from Dublin. Having won the Order of Merit last year, Harrington seems to have raised his game to the next level with that dramatic play-off triumph at the Open the culmination. He is still prone to the odd lapse (the 72nd at Carnoustie and poor finish at Oakmont in 2006 being two particularly high-profile examples) but his putting, scrambling and fiercely competitive nature mean he is always in with a chance of victory. His challenge now is to go on and win more tournaments and, more importantly, majors. Tied for 30th at Southern Hills back in 2001 but he is a vastly improved player now and right at home amongst the most exalted of company.
Gregory Havret (Fra) - 30. Debut. The Frenchman recorded the biggest win of his career, and sent shockwaves through the world of golf, when he held his nerve to beat world number three Phil Mickelson in a play-off at the Scottish Open last month. That victory earned him a place at the Open Championship where he promptly missed the cut. Currently 13th on the European Order of Merit this will be Havret's first major in America.
David Howell (Eng). 32 - Played 3. Cuts: 2. Best: 45th (2004). The man from Swindon looked poised to claim the 2006 Order of Merit as he held off Tiger Woods for victory in the Far East and then won the European Tour's flagship BMW Championship at Wentworth. But he has been dogged by injuries almost ever since and is still struggling to rediscover his old self. In contention after two rounds of the Masters earlier in the year before tailing off following a third round 82 and some way down the field again at Carnoustie despite making the cut. Finished 67th at Medinah last year after two promising opening rounds of 71 and yet to record a top-10 finish in majors.
Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) - 33. Played 1. Cuts: 0. The Frenchman's elusive maiden European Tour victory finally arrived in Spain in October 2005, but added a second this season when he led from start to finish in the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai. This will be only Jacquelin's second major in America having missed the cut at the 2004 USPGA at Whistling Straits.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) - 43. Played 8. Cuts: 7. Best: 10th (1999). The cigar-chomping 'Mechanic's' best year came in 2004 when he won four times and finished fourth on the Order of Merit but he has rather gone backwards since then and has not won for two years now. Has been consistent this year with five top-tens and put in a very solid showing at Carnoustie where he tied for 12th.
Robert Karlsson (Swe) - 37. Played 5. Cuts: 3. Best: 29th (2006). Had the best season of his career last year, winning the Deutsche Bank Players' Championship of Europe and the Welsh Open and making his Ryder Cup debut. Those victories took his career tally to seven wins, in the process overhauling Anders Forsbrand as the most prolific Swedish winner on the European Tour. Has struggled to replicate that form this time around - currently 48th on European Tour and no real record to speak of at USPGA.