What’s wrong with Australian golf and tennis?

David Lord Columnist

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    Adam Scott has won his second tournament on the trot. (AFP / Peter Muhly)

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    There have been 423 majors in the history of golf – Australians have won just 15 thanks to just nine golfers. Take out Peter Thomson’s five British Opens, and the stats look sicker.

    But there have been many Australians well capable of winning the big ones over the years, none more so than Greg Norman.

    To only have two majors to his credit does no justice to his standing in world golf during his era where he was the world number one for 331 weeks, second only to Tiger Woods’ 623, with daylight third – Nick Faldo’s 97.

    The Australian honour board:

    – Jim Ferrier won the USPGA in 1947.

    – Peter Thomson’s five British Open were 1954, 55, 56, 58, and 65.

    – Kel Nagle won the centenary British Open in 1960.

    – Greg Norman’s British Opens were 1986, and 1993.

    – Wayne Grady won the USPGA in 1990.

    – Ian Baker-Finch the Briish Open in 1991.

    – Steve Elkington the USPGA in 1995.

    – Geoff Ogilvy the US Open in 2006 when both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie imploded on the 72nd hole with double bogies.

    That translates to Australians winning just six grand slams in the last 52 years, but no US Masters ever.

    Australian tennis players have performed far better overall by winning 91 Slam singles from 445 tournaments.

    But the current Slam drought is just as evident with only five wins in the last 46 years – Pat Cash won Wimbledon in 1987, Pat Rafter the US Open in 1997 and 1998, with Lleyton Hewitt the US Open in 2001, and Wimbledon in 2002.

    No Australian has won the French since Rod Laver in 1969.

    The 1950s and 1960s were the golden era of Australian tennis when green and gold dominated the world.

    Australians won 20 of the 40 Slams in the 50s with Frank Sedgman, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, and Ashley Cooper each winning four, Mervyn Rose won two, and Neale Fraser and Ken McGregor one.

    Even more so in the 60s with 32 of the 40 – Roy Emerson won 12, Laver 11, Fraser, John Newcombe, and Fred Stolle two apiece, while Rosewall, Tony Roche, and Bill Bowrey won one each.

    Then the rot set in with only eight Slams in the 70s – Newcombe won four, Rosewall three, and Mark Edmondson one.

    And the rot has continued across Australian golf, and tennis, ever since.

    But there’s far more chance of an Australian golfing major than a Slam singles in the foreseeable future.

    On either count, the results have been very disappointing and administrators of both sports have a lot to answer for.

    Editor’s note: Sydney golfer David Graham also won two majors, the first being his 1979 playoff win at the US PGA Championship before winning the US open in 1981 by three strokes, while tennis player Mal Anderson won the US Open in 1957.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles