Just as Stuart Appleby
dominated the field at last week’s Shell Houston Open, Aussie golfers have
dominated this year’s US PGA tour.

Appleby’s six-shot
romp made it two in a row for the Aussies after Aaron Baddeley’s breakthrough
win the previous week at the Heritage. Throw in earlier wins by Geoff Ogilvy,
Rod Pampling and Appleby again, and that’s five wins out of the seventeen
tournaments to date.

Which is pretty damn
impressive when you think that of the 247 players who enjoy full or partial
playing rights on the PGA tour, only 22 of them are Aussies. That’s right,
Australians make up a little less than 9% of the tour’s playing
numbers, yet have left with the trophy at nearly 30% of this year’s
tournaments!

Compare that to the
Yanks whose 171 players represent just under 70% of the total number of
players on tour. Now while they clearly dominate in terms of sheer numbers,
they haven’t been so dominant on the fairways. OK, they have won nine events
– nearly 53% of the tournaments – but you don’t need to do the sums to
know that on a pro rata basis the Aussies have them covered with a leg in the
air.

Even South Africa, who with “Big Five” members Ernie Els and
Retief Goosen normally punch well above their weight, have not been able to
match our boys this year.

Before we get too
carried away, we have to concede we’re still lacking someone like Phil
Mickelson, much less Tiger Woods, who can dominate at the tournaments that
count above all others – the majors.

In fact, since the
Great White Shark slipped into semi retirement, few of our next generation have
been able to give the majors a shake. And until we’ve got guys contending in
the majors on a regular basis, the reality is that we’ll be seen as nothing
more than pretenders to the States’ golfing crown.

But when you’ve got guys
who putt as well as Baddeley, hit it as long as Appleby and have the all-round
game of Ogilvy, it’s a fair bet we can turn around our recent run of outs in
the majors.

And if that happens, Australia might just emerge as the greatest threat to
the US’s continued reign over world golf.

Meanwhile, Stuart
Appleby’s good form continues. He’s sitting in second place at 7 under after
the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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