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Americans Falling by the Way-side!!
Case in point, the highest ranked American male tennis player is Mardy Fish – currently #11 on the ledger – Fish had a great tournament in Miami a few weeks back making the Semi Finals before getting crushed by eventual champion and world number 2 Novak Djokovic. Fish is ranked outside of the top-10 and doesn’t have a big upside to his game. The chance of Fish moving up the rankings would be the same chance as Federer winning another French title.
On the other hand, Andy Roddick seems to be stagnating of late with his tennis and another Slam for the former US Open champion – let alone a rankings jump into the top 10 seems remote at best. Roddick is 13th in the latest ATP world rankings.
It is even more depressing on the Women’s side of things if you are an American Tennis fan. Serena Williams is the top ranked American tennis player at #10 – this is really no surprise to anybody. The shocking thing is Williams may not be involved in a competitive match for at least 6 months (or more) due to a string of injuries. Serena hasn’t played a match since last Wimbledon (early July) and may miss the entire year. Next is her big sister Venus – VW is ranked #15 and also is on the injured list. After these two future Hall of Famers – and who knows if they will ever be back on the courts again – and if they do return who knows for how long – it’s slim pickings. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is the next highest ranked American tennis player at #41. This is cause for concern if you are an American tennis enthusiast. Where are the Tracey Austin’s, Chris Evert’s, and Jennifer Capriati’s of the world? What is happening to American tennis? Never before has there been reason to panic – but now it seems to have hit rock bottom!! With Serena on the sidelines – her top-10 ranking will disappear in the coming weeks – and Americans will be shut out of the top 10 in both the men and women rankings. Something that would have seemed impossible a few years back!
On the Canadian docket – things are so much brighter with Milos Raonic and Rebecca Marino – both have the potential to be in the top 30 by year’s end!!
The American perspective is a little rosier in Women’s golf. 3 players ranked in the top 10 is not bad – but it’s not what it used to be. Back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s we were used to seeing 8 out of the top10 being American. Now the sport is dominated by Koreans. Cristie kerr, Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer have great games and could be number 1 at any time, but the depth is gone, and most of the top 50 players in the world live in Asian speaking countries and train in the American South.
Men’s golf is really in trouble in my estimation. But you wouldn’t know it based on the latest rankings – it’s just not looking good down the road. Currently the Americans have 4 players ranked in the top 10. Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar – except for Kuchar these guys are getting long in the tooth. The Americans seem to lose every Ryder Cup – a trophy they used to dominate. Let’s see what happens when they play the International field for the President’s Cup later this year in Australia. When we talk about up-and-comers there are no Americans in the discussions. Golf has never been more global and it’s obvious that the Americans have no super-stars on the horizon.
The first guy that is making people’s jaw drop is a 20 year Japanese player. Ryo Ishikawa first made people take notice because of his golf. He won his first Japan Golf Tour event as a 15-year-old amateur, won the money title at 17 and last year became the first player to shoot 58 on a major tour. Yes, a 58 in a tour event. The guy has a swing that resembles Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Tom Watson all put together. It is poetry with a golf club.
His latest eye-opening feat brought attention to his heart. Wanting to do his part to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated his native Japan, Ishikawa decided to donate his entire tournament earnings this year – plus a bonus for every birdie he makes – toward relief efforts. I can’t imagine Tiger Woods in a similar light!
Then there is Rory McIlroy – forget his collapse last Sunday at Augusta. This guy is for real and he’s going to win double digit majors. On 2 May, 2010 McIlroy recorded his first PGA Tour win after shooting 62 in the final round of the Quail Hollow Championship. The round set a new course record, and concluded with six consecutive scores of three. He became the first player since Tiger Woods to win a PGA Tour event prior to his 21st birthday. Being able to conquer a course as tough as Quail Hollow suggests this guy is one of the best golfers on the planet and if he wins a few majors in the next 3 years nobody should be surprised.
So that covers Ishikawa and McIlroy – but what about Matteo Manassero?? They guy just won a European tour event Sunday in Malaysia – beating out McIlroy – and he’s not even 18 yet. This stuff is Hollywood material!! Kids this young aren’t supposed to win their club championship yet alone a star-studded European tour event. He collected $415,000.00 dollars in the process. He will move in to the top 35 with his second European tour victory and will now gain access to all top flighted events on the world tour.
His second victory makes him the third youngest player on the major world tours to record multiple victories. The youngest three are: Ryo Ishikawa (Japan Golf Tour, aged 17 years and 46 days); Chinnarat Phadungsil (Asian Tour, aged 17 years and 293 days) and Matteo Manassero (European Tour, aged 17 years and 363 days).
These guys all have one thing in common – they are off the charts good and not American!!
What about team England – Lee Westwood (2nd), Luke Donald (3rd) and Paul Casey (7th)? These guys just seem to be getting better and better and the likelihood is strong that one of these bombers will win a major – maybe as soon as the up-coming US Open at Congressional.
Then there are the young guns from South Africa – can Scharl Schwartzel or Louis Oosthuizen win another major before the season’s finished? They own 2 of the last 3 majors. What about other South Africans – Tim Clarke, Ernie Els or Retief Goosen? This country is oozing with talent and it’s just a matter of time before we see another rookie with a perfect swing stun the golfing community as Schwartzel did last week at Augusta.
And we haven’t even mentioned the trio of Australian golfers who will likely challenge for another major this coming season – Adam Scott (17th), Jason Day (24th) or Geoff Ogilvy (29th).
All this is bad news for Tiger Woods and co. There are too many great players for these guys to win on a consistent basis.
The days of American golfers and tennis players dominating their respective tours are finished. And in my opinion, we’ll never see that kind of domination again.