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Europeans struggle at US Open once again

Europe's rising 'young guns' were left bleeding and battered at the US Open when they failed to mount the expected challenge and take America's most prestigious golfing prize.

Hopes had been high.

Shinnecock Hills is as near as it gets to links golf at a US Open - the Europeans were favoured to emulate Tony Jacklin, the last European to win a US Open 24 years ago.

Before the championship began Ireland's Padraig Harrington, the only European in the world's top ten, insisted Europe's golfing future was secure.

"I think there are a lot of good players in Europe and I think the future is bright for European golf," said the Dubliner.

"If a European golfer doesn't win this week it's not going to lessen anything about European players.

"I see some good years ahead for European golfers. It will happen in the next few years," he added.

But when the cut came Friday, after two days of Shinnecock Hills playing as easy as it ever will, there was a grim picture.

England's Justin Rose, who was fifth in his first US Open last year, crashed out of the championship, carding 15-over par for his first two rounds.

Paul Casey, another being tipped for future greatness, missed the cut by two. Ian Poulter looked like just squeezing in but a bogey-bogey finish on Friday had him flying back home early.

Even the experienced Darren Clarke, a winner on the US Tour and already a million dollars richer with his winnings this season in America, finished seven over to have a free weekend.

Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie crashed to a mind-numbing combined 13-over par for two rounds.

Six-time Major winner Nick Faldo, who had to qualify to play, destroyed his chances with an opening 11-over 81. A one-under 69 second round salvaged some pride but the damage had already been done.

Frederik Jacobson, tipped by Johnny Miller as a potential winner at Shinnecock Hills, could only manage two shots better than Lawrie.

Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn missed the cut by three shots.

Europe's slender hopes were kept alive by Spain's Sergio Garcia, Harrington Joakim Haeggman, Alex Cejka, Phillip Price and England's Lee Westwood.

Garcia, a two-time winner this season on the US Tour, put himself in contention for Sunday with rounds of 72-68-71 to be only 6-back off third round leader Retief Goosen.

Harrington and Westwood went into the weekend ten shots back and looking for a good finish rather than a chance at victory.

Harrington fired a final round five-over 75 to finish 31st, Westwood a nine-over 79 for a share of 36th and Garcia crashed to a 10-over 80, tied 20th.

Cejka was 60, Price and Haegmman 57th.

For Europe there were no cheers only tears.

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