It has been a great year for American men’s golf as the United States flag has been next to the major champion in the first three majors of the year (Tiger Woods of Cypress, CA won the Masters, Brooks Koepka of West Palm Beach, FL won the PGA Championship and Gary Woodland of Topeka, KS won the U.S. Open). Not since 1982 has the United States flag shown up next to the champion in all four men’s majors in a calendar year and not since 1976 has the United States flag shown up next to four different American men’s golfers in a calendar year.
J.B. Holmes of Campbellsville, KY has the opportunity of continuing American excellence in majors in 2019 as he currently leads the British Open at -5 after 18 holes of play from the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is currently a stacked leaderboard at the moment, as there are 18 players within three strokes of Holmes.
Shane Lowry of Ireland is alone in second place at -4. Then at -3 are four-time major champion Koepka (2017 and 2018 U.S. Open champion and 2018 and 2019 PGA champion), Alex Noren of Sweden, 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson of Raleigh, NC, 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, Dylan Frittelli of South Africa, Robert MacIntyre of Scotland, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Ryan Fox of New Zealand, England’s Lee Westwood, Tyrrell Hatton, and Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau of Salt Lake City, UT, and Jon Rahm of Spain. Those at -2 are the 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England, Ashton Turner of England, Sang Hyun Park of South Korea and Romain Langasque of France.
Holmes, who has won five times on the PGA Tour (most recently the 2019 Genesis Open in Los Angeles where he beat fellow American superstar Justin Thomas by a stroke), got off to a slow start on Thursday as he bogeyed the first. However he responded back with the vengeance as he birdied six of the final 17 holes (second, third, fifth, 12th, 14th and 18th).
Notes: This is the first British Open in Northern Ireland since 1951. The champion that year was Max Faulkner of England…the 1976 major champions were Raymond Floyd of Fort Bragg, NC (Masters), Jerry Pate of Macon, GA (U.S. Open), Johnny Miller of San Francisco, CA (British Open) and Dave Stockton of San Bernardino, CA (PGA Championship)…the 1982 major champions were Tom Watson of Kansas City, MO (U.S. Open and British Open), Craig Stadler of San Diego, CA (Masters) and Floyd (PGA Championship). There was also an American sweep in in 1977 as Watson won the Masters and British Open, Hubert Green of Birmingham, AL won the U.S. Open and Lanny Wadkins of Richmond, VA won the PGA Championship.