• The Masters

Europe's finest hope to end 14-year Augusta drought

ESPN staff
April 10, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Justin Rose and Ian Poulter both have eyes on the Masters title © Getty Images
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ESPN will be providing live commentary during all four days of the Masters from Augusta National - along with all the news, views and opinion when it gets underway on Thursday.

Europe's finest golfers are hoping to end a 14-year drought for the continent at Augusta National when The Masters gets underway on Thursday.

Former European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal was the last European player to win the fabled green jacket, picking up his second title around the Georgia course in 1999.

The Spaniard's triumph completed a run of eight European successes in the 11 years since Sandy Lyle's memorable victory in 1988 - but a European player has not donned a green jacket in victory since.

The likes of Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood have continued to represent Europe at the top of the world rankings without turning that superiority into a Masters victory, something they all hope to changes this week.

"We just haven't performed very well. Simple," Ian Poulter said, when asked about the European drought. "We haven't performed well enough and I think the guys are disappointed, to be honest. One of the guys would have expected to have come through by now.

"What's the reason for that? I don't know. Tiger [Woods] has taken a few, Phil [Mickelson] has taken a few. They are pretty good those two."

Donald came into last year's tournament as the world No. 1, but was well down the field come Sunday afternoon. The Englishman believes fields are stronger in professional golf than they have ever been.

"I think since I've been a professional, I feel like the fields have gotten a lot stronger, a lot deeper. You're seeing anyone on a given week has a chance to win," Donald said. "This game is a very mental game, and it's almost who is the less fragile players that week that have a chance.

"Everyone has the talent and the ability to win, and you know, obviously there's a bunch of great and good European players right now, Justin [Rose] and Poults and Rory and Graeme [McDowell], and the list goes on and on. But we certainly have as good a chance this year as any other."

On his own hopes, Donald added: "I think it's going to come down to getting the putter rolling. I've been working hard on it, and I know I have good fundamentals, good technique. It's just about seeing a few go in and build that confidence. I feel pretty good about my overall game."

Justin Rose is widely tipped in many quarters to pose the strongest British challenge for victory, having played himself into contention around Augusta on a couple of previous occasions.

Rose admits that the layout does not intimidate him, despite its many challenges.

"There's nothing I feel like I can't do out there," Rose said. "It's just a matter of doing it.

"That's the hard part, just showing up and bringing all aspects and hoping that all aspects of your game fall into place on that one week.

"But I would say for me, probably still just the putting is the one area that I'm right there with, and I think it's the one area of my game that's going to turn into a strength of mine.

"If I could choose my putting to show up, then I know I'll give myself a good chance."

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