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PGA Tour Confidential: The PGA Championship

Steve Stricker, final round, PGA Championship
John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE
Steve Stricker led the PGA after the opening round, but finished tied for 12th.

STATE OF AMERICAN GOLF
Dusek: At the beginning of the fourth round, Brendan Steele, Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley were at the top of the leaderboard. We haven't written much about them, but given the week and the other talented young Americans out there like Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim and Rickie Fowler, is American golf's future brighter than some people may think?

Van Sickle: Bradley looked like the total package this week. If he can putt that well (with the belly putter), he'll be a force. Steele is a solid player, but he paled a bit in comparison to the other two. Dufner is a superior ballstriker. He's going to have a lot more chances to win, especially if he can get more consistent with his putter, the only club that's holding him back.

Gorant: I've been making the case for the Americans for a while, although this is certainly the greatest supporting argument yet. Lots of talented young guys out there from all over.

Lipsey: A little brighter, but still bleak in the big picture. D.J., A.K., Fowler and the rest of our massively overhyped young studs have won, umm, a combined zero majors.

Hanger: That's as many as the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world, both Brits, so I'm not too discouraged.

Godich: Europe's young guns might have a couple majors between them, but I don't exactly see them lighting it up every week. There are a slew of outstanding young players on this side of the pond. It's not easy to win.

Van Sickle: The English golf revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. Donald and Westwood are very solid. Poulter and Casey, where are they now?

Gorant: To whom are you comparing the Americans, Rick? Rory has one major. Kaymer has one. Schwartzel and Oosthuizen one each, and Oostie's is looking flukier by the week. Not a lot of players are blowing the young Americans out of the water right now.

Godich: And Kaymer hasn't exactly distinguished himself since he won the PGA.

Lipsey: No, but he did win the PGA.

Godich: When supposedly unbeatable UNLV failed to defend its national championship in the early '90s, John Wooden famously uttered: "A lot of teams have won one championship in a row." Kaymer has exactly one major championship, just like Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel and Todd Hamilton, to name three.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: I'm with Rick on this one. So far the young Americans are all hat, no cattle. Until Bradley's win, the closest an American got to winning a major this year was Johnson and Mickelson tying for second at the British. McIlroy and Schwartzel are putting themselves in contention a lot more.

Godich: In addition to the British, Johnson had two close calls in 2010. And speaking of McIlroy, he has won how many times around the world?

Walker: OK. The young Americans have been disappointing in majors except for Dustin Johnson, who's now crashed and burned in the final round three times. Who else you got?

Garrity: I just think winning majors is a pretty high standard to apply to "young" golfers, no matter where they hail from. There are only four majors a year, and even old farts like Darren Clarke are capable of winning.

Herre: I could see a guy like Bradley on the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team. He's had a great rookie year and clearly is a comer.

Dusek: What about Fred Couples's Presidents Cup team this fall? Length like Bradley's off the tee and a hot putter could make him tough in match play.

Hanger: I want Dufner on the squad with the waggle, the gut and the dip.

Lipsey: If Woods is on the team and Bradley isn't, that would make a mockery of the whole selection process.

Van Sickle: I'd definitely take Bradley on a team right now over Tiger. Bradley seems like a guy who'd be great in the team room, and he played strong golf under pressure.

Tell us what you think: Does Bradley's win make you feel more optimistic about the future of American golf? Who will be the next American to win a major?

DISAPPOINTMENT FOR TWO VETERANS
Dusek: Majors are tough to win, especially as players get older, but which veteran will be most stung by not winning the PGA: Scott Verplank or Steve Stricker?

Lipsey: Verplank probably already considered himself more or less AWOL, so this won't hurt too much. Stricker is in full flight. It should sting him.

Godich: Verplank. He was closer to the lead after three rounds. He's a few years older than Stricker. And he seems to keep getting bitten by the injury bug.

Garrity: I think it's harder on Stricker because he's in his prime, because he shot a first-round 63, and because he was right there with a chance on Sunday. Verplank would have been a wonderful dark-horse winner, but he didn't spend the week thinking he'd win.

Godich: I bet he did on Sunday, though, especially considering the players he was chasing.

Hanger: And at 47, he probably isn't going to get another chance like this one. That has to hurt.

Garrity: Verplank glimpsed the prize when he holed that bunker shot on 16 — I'm sure he was excited — but he immediately saw it vanish when he hooked it into the water on 17. It was over that fast.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Stricker's one of the best putters out there, if not the best. No reason why he shouldn't win at least one major. But now you have to ask if he's built up too much scar tissue to ever break through.

Herre: Had to be Stricker. I was never confident that Verplank would get it done.

Morfit: Verplank looked pretty stung behind the scoring trailer. I overheard him telling a friend before the tournament that he'd been pretty banged up this year, but today he said he never felt any pain all week. He had no idea why.

Wei: Stricker. He's still the Best American Without a Major.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Tougher on Stricker. He had a 15-footer for 62 on Thursday, has two wins this season and is on the short list of best players without a major. He was there all week, until he wasn't.

Tell us what you think: Who should feel worse about not winning the PGA, Sticker or Verplank?

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