The United States started the year with only six players among the top 15. Now there are nine.
And these majors are coming from unlikely sources.
Bradley became only the second player in nearly 100 years to win on his first try at a major. Watson always had the talent, though his composure was always in question until he made four straight birdies on the back nine at Augusta National. He won his playoff by hooking a wedge some 40 yards out of the trees and onto the green to win with a par.
Simpson won twice last year on the PGA Tour and lost a shot at the money title in the final round of the year. Even so, the 26-year-old had been quiet this year and didn’t have high expectations even as he played the final round.
“I never really wrapped my mind around winning,” Simpson said. “This place is so demanding, and so all I was really concerned about was keeping the ball in front of me and making pars. The course is so hard, you don’t know if you’re going to make three or four bogeys in a row.”
He left that to the others.
McDowell made four bogeys on the front nine and had to spend the rest of the day catching up. He holed a clutch birdie on the 17th hole to get within one shot and gave himself a look at birdie on the final hole. Furyk looked strong as ever, even rolling in a 30-foot par putt on the 12th hole, but a snap hook off the tee at the par-5 16th led to bogey, and he made bogey when he needed birdie on the 18th by hitting into the bunker.
While Simpson admired Woods and his 14 majors, inspiration came from Bradley.
“If I see Keegan Bradley win a major — I respect his game a ton — but I feel like, ‘Keegan Bradley won one, I want to go win one,’” Simpson said. “All these guys that won before me, I thought, ‘I want to win a tournament.’ They’re great players, but I want to do what they’re doing.”
It seems as though everyone is doing that.
Simpson didn’t have an answer for so many different players winning majors.
“One of my thoughts on the back nine was, ‘I don’t know how Tiger has won 14 of these things because of the pressure,’ ” Simpson said. “I couldn’t feel my legs most of the back nine.”