Global talent at Houston seeking sixth PGA win in a row

·3-min read
Brooks Koepka will try to win this week's US PGA Tour Houston Open on a par-70 Memorial Park layout where he served as a consultant on the course renovation (AFP/Cliff Hawkins)

Players from outside the United States would match their longest US PGA Tour win streak on record with a sixth consecutive victory this week at the Houston Open.

The penultimate event of the tour schedule for 2021 tees off Thursday at par-70 Memorial Park with reigning champion Carlos Ortiz of Mexico having pulled out with a left shoulder injury.

International players won six US PGA titles in a row in 2004 from The Memorial to the John Deere Classic and in 2008 from the WGC Bridgestone Invitational to BMW Championship.

This year, players from outside the United States have won five events in a row starting with South Korea's Im Sung-jae at the Shriners Children's Open in Las Vegas.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland won at the CJ Cup and reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan won the Zozo Championship in his homeland.

Australian Lucas Herbert won the Bermuda Championship and Norway's Viktor Hovland took last week's Mayakoba Championship in Mexico.

It's a by-product of golf's global growth and the rise of international talent in the pro golf ranks.

"We want to be a sport that's worldwide, known in every country, everybody's playing it," four-time major winner Brooks Koepka said. "I think that's a big thing. I think it's very important for golf."

It's the sort of thing that moves through generations, heroes from various homelands sparking youth to follow in their footsteps.

"You want these kids idolizing them growing up and come to play, exactly like I did," said 15th-ranked Koepka, an American who consulted on the Memorial Park course renovation.

"Everybody that's out here idolized somebody. I think you're going to start to see a lot more guys paving that way even in the next five years."

In 2004, the six-win run was produced by triumphs from South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, Spain's Sergio Garcia, Australians Adam Scott and Mark Hensby and Stephen Ames, then of Trinidad and Tobago.

In 2008, Fiji's Vijay Singh won three times in the run. Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Sweden's Carl Pettersson and Colombia's Camilo Villegas also won.

- Home week for Canadian -

Hoping to join this year's list is Canada's Roger Sloan, who has the edge of being a Houston resident.

"It's nice to sleep in your own bed, cook some home-cooked meals, hang out with family and the neighbors and let the kids run around," Sloan said.

"But at the same time you have to stay disciplined to do your preparations to be ready on Thursday."

Sloan, ranked 217th, nearly failed to qualify for the 2021-22 PGA season but a sixth-place effort at the Barracuda Championship and a runner-up showing at Greensboro in August earned him a place on the current tour.

"I just never give up," Sloan said. "I was a third-line grinder type of hockey player so I never give up. Doesn't matter whether I'm teeing it up on Sunday in 65th or teeing it up in fifth, I'm going to put a solid effort in. I'm never going to give up."

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