USPGA: The European Challenge Pt III
Last Updated: August 8, 2007 10:01am
Montgomerie: runner-up in 1995
Profiles of the European representatives who will be teeing-up for the 89th USPGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Bernhard Langer (Ger) - 49. Played 20. Cuts: 13. Best: 21st (1987). Langer remains the only one of Europe's 'Golden Generation' (alongside the likes of Ballesteros, Lyle, Faldo and Woosnam) still playing genuinely competitive golf. Fifty later this month, but has had second-place finishes in America and Europe to his credit this year and was World Cup winner with Marcel Siem last December. The two-time major winner is still capable of getting into the mix and is sure to make a huge impact when he joins the Champions Tour later this year.
Paul McGinley (Ire) - 40. Played 6. Cuts: 3. Best: 6th (2004). Three Ryder Cups, three wins and like Darren Clarke invited to take part in spite of world ranking slide. McGinley showed glimpses of his best form at Open Championship at Carnoustie recently when he was amongst the early pacesetters but could not maintain his challenge and finished 19th. His best major finish to date did come at the USPGA when he finished tied for sixth at Whistling Straits in 2004.
Colin Montgomerie (Sco) - 44. Played 15. Cuts: 9. Best: 2nd (1995). Monty's career looked to be on a downward spiral in 2005 until he ran Tiger close in the Open championship, won the Dunhill Links Championship and claimed his eighth Order of Merit title. He should have won that elusive first major at Winged Foot in 2006 but inexplicably duffed a seven iron from the middle of the 18th fairway and took a double bogey six to miss a play-off by a shot. Ended a 19-month wait for a win by taking the European Open at the K Club at the start of July, but has missed the cut in all three majors this year and would appear to have it all on to make any sort of challenge. Lost play-off to Steve Elkington 12 years ago, one of five runners-up finishes in majors.
Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) - 41. Played 18. Cuts: 10. Best: 4th (2000). The twice Masters champion has overcome a debilitating illness to become a force in the game once again, his driving has improved markedly over the last couple of seasons and his iron play is second to none. However, while Ollie loves it round Augusta, the Spaniard's record in the USPGA is not as impressive with a fourth-place his best finish some seven years ago. The Spaniard missed Open last month because of knee injury and seems unlikely to be at his best.
Ian Poulter (Eng) - 31. Played 5. Cuts: 4. Best: 9th (2006). The colourful Hitchin golfer endured a slump in 2006 missing out on the Masters and the Ryder Cup team, before a late season rally got him back into the top 50 in the world as he won in Spain and then finished runner-up to Woods in the WGC American Express Championship at The Grove. Showed good form earlier in the season with a run to the quarter-finals of the World Match Play, tied for 13th at The Masters and also finished with two decent rounds at the recent Open Championship where he eventually tied for 27th - but there is still the feeling that he flatters to deceive. Achieved his first major top-ten at Medinah last August.
Justin Rose (Eng) - 27. Played 4. Cuts: 2. Best: 23rd (2002). A player whose career is definitely on the up after a fallow couple of years. He is now in the world's top 20 and should already have won on the PGA Tour a couple of times this year after getting himself into winning positions, as well as at Wentworth when he was pipped to the European PGA Championship after losing a play-off to Dane Anders Hansen. Has been right in contention at every major so far this year, finishing fifth at Augusta, tenth at Oakmont and 12th at Carnoustie. Had one or two injury problems to overcome, but his game and big-match experience is improving all the time and could well be due a big win.
Henrik Stenson (Swe) - 31. Played 2. Cuts: 2. Best: 14th (2006). The laid-back Swede made a sensational start to the 2007 season and is fancied by plenty to go on and claim a major prize. He beat a world class field that included Tiger Woods and Ernie Els at the Dubai Desert Classic and went on to win the World Match Play - just the second European to win a World Championship event. Faded after a very promising start at The Masters and his game has seemingly gone off the boil in recent times - the arrival of his first child could also have played a part. He was joint halfway leader at Medinah last year and still led Europe's Order of Merit until Padraig Harrington's Open win.
Graeme Storm (Eng) - 29. Debut. The Englishman lifted first European Tour title at French Open on July 1 some eight years after winning British Amateur. His form has been patchy at best since and missed the cut at the Open Championship. Makes his debut in the USPGA this week after a solid enough showing at Bridgestone Invitational where he stayed on for the weekend.
Anthony Wall (Eng) - 32. Played 1. Cuts: 0. Only his second appearance at the event, missed the cut last year when he made his debut following a hugely consistent season that garnered no fewer than three runner-up cheques. Qualified for last year's Open at Hoylake and finished as the leading British golfer in a share of 11th, but his only Tour win was some seven years ago.
Lee Westwood (Eng) - 34. Played 10. Cuts: 6. Best: 15th (2000). The man from Worksop has reserved his best golf for the Ryder Cup in recent years, joint top-scoring with Sergio Garcia in the last two matches. His form has been patchy for a couple of years - he needed a wildcard to play at the K Club - but, having switched putters, has come into some form this season which culminated in victory at the Open de Andalucia in May - his first European Tour success for four years. Solid rather than spectacular showing at the first three majors of the year, the former European number one will nevertheless head into the tournament with hopes of a decent showing at Southern Hills. Has had top-ten finishes in the other three majors during his career, but not the PGA.