The talents of Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton and Justin Rose provided a compelling case for an England victory in the run-up to the 120th US Open.
Instead, all four should be on a flight to London on Saturday, after missing the last two rounds at Winged Foot.
This was a half way cut that turned out to be a deep one for the home game.
Justin Rose hit just 21 percent of the fairways in two rounds while struggling at the US Open
In total, 10 of the 13 Englishmen in the field spent the weekend with stars like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.
Ian Poulter, Danny Willett, Tom Lewis, Andy Sullivan… the list of victims was long, okay.
Indeed, the chance for an England win in the middle seemed to rest with Harris English, who was just two off the lead of former Masters champion Patrick Reed. However, since he is a proud American, he can hardly be claimed.
No Englishman was in the top 20, with the limp challenge led by 47-year-old Lee Westwood, who played in his first event in America since the lockdown ended. Even Westy started his third round on Saturday with a double bogey.
The other two who came through were Matt Wallace and Paul Casey, the number two in the season’s first major, the USPGA in San Francisco last month.
Tyrrell Hatton was unable to continue his positive form after settling in America
Casey did well not to fall victim himself after opening with 76 – he shot 70 on Friday – and did an amazing job recovering from a gruesome start of five over to post a 69 on Saturday after seven holes.
Wallace, who had a 73, also fought hard, but they were small choices in addition to the rich optimism that was going on in the event.
The best score in the beginning came from Europe Ryder Cup player Alex Noren, who quickly rose through the ranks with a great 67.
So what happened to all those high English hopes for victory?
Sir Nick Faldo’s beautiful legacy of six majors should be an inspiration, but in the nearly 25 years since he stopped winning, it often looked more like a millstone.
In the 96 majors since then, there have been only two English victories, ahead of Rose at the 2013 US Open and Willett at the Masters three years later. There is no need to go over the top in regards to Fleetwood, Fitzpatrick and Hatton as all three are still in their twenties and younger than when Faldo learned his habit of winning.
Tommy Fleetwood’s best days are ahead of him, but he failed to cut at Winged Foot
Still, it’s a bit troubling when all three of them bow prematurely to a job that seemed to suit their strengths.
Fleetwood is a great player of the ball and one of the best iron players in the game.
Hatton emerged on an equally tough course in Bay Hill in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Fitzpatrick is a man of fairways and greens and a great putter.
But the closest to taking on a challenge was early Thursday morning when Hatton birded the first two holes to hold on to the lead.
Let’s hope all three come back roaring at the Masters in November, but the game becomes a different game when people start talking about winning a major, and your own expectation levels start to rise. You wonder if it played a role in their collective failure.
Hatton, for example, had a great year and settled in America despite all the turmoil caused by the pandemic.
Matt Fitzpatrick showed promising signs but was also cut halfway through
But one win and several other good finishes shockingly sit alongside two missed cuts in the two majors staged so far.
All three are very ambitious, so you can be sure that they will look behind closed doors for their own answers.
More worrying is Rose’s steep decline, unable to recapture that majestic long game that made him one of the best players in the world for most of a decade. In his prime, he would have been one of the favorites last week, but in the past 18 months the 40-year-old has dropped from world number 1 to 20th and has collected just five top five finishes from 35 starts during that time. time.
In an effort to find a solution, he has changed coaches and changed clubs, but he doesn’t seem closer to rediscovering any consistency on the tee.
Rose hit just 21 percent of the fairways in the two rounds, including a pitiful three out of 14 on Friday.
Poulter has an astonishingly poor track record at the US Open.
After a gruesome week, have his words summarized on his considerable social media, not only for himself but also for his English colleagues. “As I trudge back to my car, I don’t like playing in US Opens at all… they’re a mess,” he wrote.
‘I don’t know what else to tell you. They are just annoying. ‘
England’s Mel Reid is one shot behind leaders Hannah Green and Cydney Clanton in the shortened Portland Classic.
The tournament was reduced to 54 holes due to poor air quality due to forest fires. Australian defending champions Green and American Clanton both shot six-under-par rounds of 66. Reid was one of four players in the clubhouse at 67.