- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

JOHNS CREEK, GA. (AP) - The question was asked in jest.

For the U.S., this is no laughing matter.

Here we are at another of golf’s major championships, the final one of the year, and the Americans are still mired in their longest drought of the modern era.

No need to push the panic button just yet, but it’s not out of line to wonder just what’s wrong with the red, white and ohhh-sooo-blue.

Or, as a reporter jokingly put it to the most recent non-U.S. winner, British Open champion Darren Clarke, do you think the Americans will win another major in our lifetime?

“I’m sure its cyclical at the moment and the Americans will start winning again very, very soon,” the Ulsterman said. “But at the moment, it’s a wonderful time for the European Tour.”

The U.S. has been shut out at the last six majors, a slide that began after Phil Mickelson won the Masters _ the 2010 Masters, that is. In the 16 months since then, there’s been three champions from Northern Ireland, two from South Africa, one from Germany _ and zip from the U-S-of-A.

Heading into the PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Atlanta Athletic Club, the Americans tends to shrug off the lengthy dry spell as largely a media creation, an attempt to divvy up players based on nationality when actually they have much in common.

There are plenty of top international players competing regularly on the PGA Tour and living in this country at least part of the year.

Take Graeme McDowell. The 2010 U.S. Open champion may be from Northern Ireland, but he played college golf in Birmingham, Ala., and has already competed in a dozen PGA Tour events this year.

Germany’s Martin Kaymer (2010 PGA Championship) has a home in Scottsdale, Ariz. South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters) joined the PGA Tour this year. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open) says he might follow Schwartzel to this side of the Atlantic.

“If you look at the last 10 years, we’ve done pretty well,” Dustin Johnson told a group of reporters. “It just gives you guys something to talk about.”

Still, it stings just a bit, especially when everyone keeps bringing it up.

“We don’t sit around and talk about it over lunch or anything,” said Steve Stricker, the highest-ranked U.S. player at No. 5. “I’ve thought about it. I think all the American players have thought about it because it’s in the story, it’s in the media quite a bit.

“What’s happened in the last six majors,” he added, “fuels the fire of the Americans to try to get better and to work at it and try to break that streak, no doubt.”

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