Thursday, 31 July 2014
European victors on the World Golf Championship stage  (EuropeanTour)
European victors on the World Golf Championship stage (EuropeanTour)

Tiger Woods may have dominated the World Golf Championships since their inception in 1999, but on those few occasions when the American has not found himself on the top step of the podium, there have been a fair few European victors along the way.

Over the past decade and a half the former World Number One has been dominant en route to 18 titles, which have been spread out across three of the four Championships that are now contested – the Accenture Match Play Championship, Cadillac Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational.

The HSBC Champions event joined the WGC roster in 2009, but in that time Woods has failed to better a tie for sixth, a result he posted in the first two years he played in China.

Since 1999 the European contingent have picked up nine titles of their own, which would make them the second most successful collective, behind the United States with 32 individual wins.

Darren Clarke was the first to taste victory after he toppled the Tiger in the final of the 2000 Accenture Match Play Championship, a victory that was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Woods was very much at the peak of his powers at the time.

The Ulsterman would once again represent Europe at the top of the game some three years later, when he romped to a four stroke victory at Firestone Country Club, home to the Bridgestone Invitational for all but one of its 15 editions so far – the other being held at Sahalee Country Club in 2002.

Almost four years would pass before another European accepted one of the iconic ceramic trophies awarded to a World Golf Champion, and the man to break that duck was Henrik Stenson.

On what would prove a happy hunting ground over the following years – Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain – the Swede overcame defending Champion Geoff Ogilvy in the final, before another two quick fire titles landed in European laps come 2010.

England’s Ian Poulter claimed the first of his two World Golf Championship wins in the Tuscon desert, looking pretty in pink as he did it, defeating compatriot Paul Casey in a gruelling 36-hole encounter.

That season would also see the crowning achievement of Francesco Molinari’s career so far, after the Italian claimed his one and only WGC title at the HSBC Champions. That year he held off the title advances of Lee Westwood by a stroke, having lead at the end of every round, as the pair dominated the field to finish well clear in China.

The following season would see Luke Donald follow in Poulter’s footsteps at the WGC-Accenture, en route to being crowned World Number One later that year. While another man who had found himself at the top of the game – Martin Kaymer – would also add a maiden WGC title to his trophy haul in 2011, thanks to a stunning Sunday 63 at Sheshan International Golf Club to win by a few from Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson.

The following year would see another brace of titles, as the English contingent continued to do their bit for the European haul, claiming their third and fourth World Golf Championship titles.

Justin Rose was the first of those, holding off the title advances of home-favourite Bubba Watson in Florida to claim a narrow victory at the Cadillac Championship, before good friend – and compatriot – Poulter picked up his second piece of victory ceramic at the HSBC Champions in China.

Nine of the best, then, from an impressive European cohort, and with plenty in the field this week, it could be number ten come Sunday afternoon in Akron.

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