A new world order led by Europe

Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy

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Lee Westwood's took the top spot in the world rankings in 2010, but how long will it last?

Are we about to witness another golden era for European golf?

The Official World Golf Ranking seems to suggest that. Six Europeans occupy the top ten spots in the world order, with England’s Lee Westwood leading the way.

Not since the 1980s has Europe had such a dream line-up in world golf. Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell join Westwood as part of Europe’s big six in the world top ten.

More importantly, Kaymer and McDowell have won majors this year. Not since 1999 have two Europeans won majors in the same season, when Jose Maria Olazabal won the Masters and Paul Lawrie the Open Championship.

Throw in the fact that Europe regained the Ryder Cup, and it’s no wonder there’s a definite feel good factor at European Tour headquarters.

The aforementioned six aren’t the only Europeans excelling on the world stage. Not far behind in the world pecking order are stars in Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington and the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco.

So the question has to be, are these Europeans as good as the original big six of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and Jose Maria Olazabal?

Not yet. But there’s nothing to stop them from emulating the feats of Seve and Co.

The Ballesteros bunch counts 18 majors. The current crop only tallies five, and Harrington has three of those.

However, history could be repeating itself. Just as Seve showed his peers that it was possible to win majors, Harrington may have inspired Kaymer and McDowell to their wins. He might be the reason for Westwood’s good form in the tournaments that count over the last few years. It can’t be long before Westwood joins the major club.

“Padraig has been a massive influence on the rest of us,” Poulter said. “When someone you’ve competed against and beat goes out and wins a major, it obviously gives you the belief that you can do it, too.”

There can be no doubting the snowball effect. McIlroy watched McDowell win the U.S. Open this year and then publicly pronounced belief in his own ability to emulate his Northern Irish friend.

He came close to winning this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews. In fact, take out a disastrous third round 80 and he might just have hoisted the old Claret Jug.

Casey, too, got a sniff of major glory over the Old Course. The Englishman finished third at St. Andrews and then said: “I know I’m good enough to win a major.”

He’s not the only European who thinks that right now.

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