Europe's 40-Year Drought at U.S. Open Golf Is `Coincidence,' Players Say

The European drought at golf’s U.S. Open has reached 40 years, a streak attributed to nothing more than “coincidence” by England’s Lee Westwood and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.

With seven of the top 14 players in the current world rankings, Europeans hope the seaside course at Pebble Beach, California, will be the site of their first U.S. Open victory since England’s Tony Jacklin won at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, in 1970.

“It’s just pure coincidence at this stage,” the 14th- ranked Harrington said yesterday in a news conference. “There’s a lot of good European players. One of them is going to win a U.S. Open pretty soon.”

Westwood, 37, ranked third in the world, is the top European player entering the Open that begins tomorrow. He finished third at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines near San Diego, missing a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have put him in a playoff with Rocco Mediate and eventual winner Tiger Woods.

Westwood comes into the tournament having won last weekend’s St. Jude Classic in Memphis, becoming the first European champion at the 52-year-old tournament. It was his first win on the U.S. PGA Tour since 1998.

Tied for Fifth

Harrington and Westwood tied for fifth the last time the U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach, in 2000, when Woods won by 15 shots. Westwood, who said the venue along the Pacific Ocean remains “probably my favorite golf course in the world,” came to Pebble Beach before Memphis to get in two days of practice by himself.

“It’s an amazing stretch of land and a dramatic coast line,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a golf course you can ever tire of playing. It’s just such a spectacular place to play. If you have a bad day you can have a look around and it cheers you up a bit.”

Westwood will be playing in his 50th major championship this week and has yet to win one. Harrington, 38, a three-time major winner, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee three weeks ago and said it would not affect his golf this weekend.

Harrington also called the four-decade drought by Europeans at the U.S. Open a coincidence.

“If Europeans had won the last 39 U.S. Opens, would it be that Europeans are going to win this week? No,” he said. “It’s the best player going out this week, regardless of where he’s from.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net.

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