Continued from page 1

___

6. American resurgence

Keegan Bradley’s win at the PGA Championship ended the longest drought for Americans in the majors since the Masters began in 1934. The previous six major champions were international players. But there are rumblings of an American resurgence. For the first time since 1991, Americans made it a clean sweep of the West Coast Swing _ from Steve Stricker at Kapalua through John Huh (born in New York) in Mexico. A year ago, there were 17 Americans in the top 50 in the world. This year, that number is up to 21.

___

7. Battle for No. 1

Rory McIlroy at 22 became the second-youngest player to reach No. 1 in the world when he won the Honda Classic. Tiger Woods was 21 when he first got to the top of the ranking in 1997. McIlroy and Woods had something else in common besides youth. Neither of them stayed at No. 1 for very long. McIlroy was there for two weeks until Luke Donald regained the No. 1 spot by winning at Innisbrook. Woods was No. 1 for one week when he was replaced by Ernie Els, who lasted one week until he was replaced by Greg Norman, who lasted one week. Clearly, it was a lot more volatile in 1997 than it is now. Going into the Masters, three players have a shot at No. 1 _ Donald, McIlroy and Lee Westwood. All have been there before.

___

8. South Koreans

K.J. Choi carried the South Korean flag by himself when he first joined the PGA Tour a decade ago. He was joined by Kevin Na and Charlie Wi, Korean-born but raised in California. Each year, he is getting more and more company. Y.E. Yang became the first Asian to win a major at the 2008 PGA Championship. S.Y. Noh and Sang-Moon Bae made it through Q-school last year, and now there are seven South Koreans who are full PGA Tour members this year. Except for the United States, only Australia and South Africa have more players with full-exempt status this year.

___

9. Ryder Cup

It’s rare for there to be so little chatter about the Ryder Cup with the matches only six months away. Then again, there hasn’t been much reason to talk about the Ryder Cup. The American qualifying process is based on the PGA Tour money list, with the money from the majors counting double, and we haven’t played the first major yet. Not surprisingly, only one player among the top eight has failed to win this year _ Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship last year. Only the majors from last year count. It’s also too early to figure out what’s going on in Europe, except that this figures to be the tougher team to make. One other reason not to get too excited about the Ryder Cup _ Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal have not even named their assistant captains yet.