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Non-Americans ready for Houston Open

We want to be a sport that’s worldwide, known in every country, everybody’s playing it.

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Brooks Koepka is one guy to watch out for in the Houston Open. / CLIFF HAWKINS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON (AFP) — 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.

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