British sporting winners in the US: Andy Murray, David Beckham and more
The 2018 US Open starts on Monday and Matt Coles takes a look at some of the British sports stars to win in America in recent times.
From a tennis perspective, Andy Murray will be looking to conquer the States for the second time in his career. The Scot won the event back in 2012, but that isn’t the only time that a British sportsman has ruled in the USA.
Andy Murray – US Open champion 2012
Starting with the man himself, Andy Murray, the winner of the US Open in 2012. The Scot first tasted major victory in the States in 2004 as he won the Junior US Open. He then went on to win several times in America on the ATP Tour. He won the Pacific Coast Championships and Cincinnati Masters twice and the Miami Open in 2011 before securing the big one.
After winning the gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012, Murray went on to win the US Open in the same year. Having beaten Alex Bogomolov, Ivan Dodig, Feliciano Lopez and Milos Raonic, he then had to come from behind to beat Marin Cilic. Murray then overcame Tomas Berdych before securing his first major title by beating Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic.
In doing so, he became the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry did so in 1936. He also became the first Scottish-born player to win a Grand Slam final since 1896, when Harold Mahony won the Wimbledon title.
Since winning the US Open, Murray has gone on to claim Wimbledon twice (2013 and 2016) along with defending his Olympic title in Rio in 2016.
David Beckham – 2x MLS Cup champion with LA Galaxy (2011, 2012)
Onto football and to David Beckham’s contribution to helping grow the sport in the USA. The former England captain moved to the States, joining LA Galaxy, in 2007. He signed for the club after his spell at Real Madrid, and immediately went on to captain the side.
After loan spells at AC Milan, Beckham rejoined the Galaxy ahead of the 2011 season. That year, the Galaxy won the Supporters’ Shield (the regular season league), before going all the way and winning the MLS Cup final at the end of November. In doing so, Beckham won a league title in a third different country.
In 2012, the Galaxy finished fourth in the Western Conference, but battled through the play-offs to win a second consecutive MLS Cup. Beckham played his final game for the club in that MLS Cup Final victory over Houston Dynamo.
He went on to become the first Englishman to win a league title in four different countries (England, Spain, France, USA) as he also won Ligue 1 with PSG in 2012-13.
In 2014, the MLS announced that Beckham had exercised an option in his original LA Galaxy contract that allowed him to buy an expansion team. The Miami MLS team came about from it, and the team will begin play at the start of the 2020 MLS campaign.
Jay Ajayi – Super Bowl LI winner with the Philadelphia Eagles
He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 2015 NFL Draft and went on to score nine rushing touchdowns for the team in his two and half seasons there. During the 2017 campaign, Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2018 Draft.
Ajayi became the Eagles’ first-choice running back for the remainder of the 2017 season, and would go on to help them reach the playoffs. In February, the Eagles overcame the New England Patriots to win the first Super Bowl in their history.
Lewis Hamilton – 6x United States GP winner (2007, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Lewis Hamilton had conquered the United States in Formula 1 in recent years, winning six of the last seven races in the USA. He won the 2007 US Grand Prix, in his first race in F1 Stateside. After that race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the event was taken off the calendar.
When the sport returned to the States in 2012, Hamilton took the victory at the new Circuit of the Americas. After finishing fourth in 2013, the Brit has gone on to win the last four races in Texas. His six wins in the US Grand Prix is the most of any driver in history.
There are four other British drivers who have multiple wins in the United States Grand Prix. Graham Hill and Jim Clark won the event three times each, over a six year period (1962-1967), with both Jackie Stewart and James Hunt winning the race twice.
Dario Franchitti – 4x IndyCar champion (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Staying with motor racing, and a discipline that is solely based in the USA. The IndyCar series is raced on both ovals and road circuits, and a Scot was the dominant force in the late 2000s.
Dario Franchitti first made the move Stateside in 1997, in the Champ Car series. He then moved into IndyCar in 2002, making his debut in the Indianapolis 500. He took his first victory in 2004, at the Milwaukee 225.
It took until 2007 before Franchitti won his first IndyCar Championship, which he secured in the final race of the season at the Chicagoland Speedway. After a year out of IndyCar, he returned to the series in 2009. He went on to secure a second title, once again at the final race of the season.
Franchitti would go on to record his third Championship in 2010, and then his fourth in 2011, making it four consecutive Championships for the Scot in IndyCar, taking the absence of 2008 into account. He retired from racing in 2013, after a huge crash in Houston, which saw him suffer a spinal fracture.
During his racing career, he tasted success in the Indianapolis 500 three times, making him tied for fourth in the all-time rankings of the prestigious event. Franchitti also won the 24H of Daytona in 2008, proving his class in endurance racing as well.
Nick Faldo – 3x Masters champion (1989, 1990, 1996)
Onto golf, and the Englishman that ruled the roost at Augusta for almost a decade. Sir Nick Faldo’s professional career began in 1977, becoming the youngest-ever Ryder Cup player at the time, at the age of 20 that year.
Ten years later, he took his first major. Faldo won The Open at Muirfield in 1987, before claiming his first Masters title in 1989. He then became the first person to win back-to-back green jackets since Jack Nicklaus in the 1960s, after winning the Masters for a second time in 1990.
The same year, Faldo went on to win a second Open Championship, this time at St. Andrews. In doing so, he became the first golfer to win two major championships in the same year. Faldo then secured his place in golfing legend by securing a third Masters title in 1996.
He is the most coveted European golfer since World War I when it comes to majors. His six rank higher than the likes of Severiano Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer. Faldo also holds the records for the most points earned in the Ryder Cup, securing 25 points for Team Europe over his illustrious career.
Rory McIlroy – US Open champion (2011) and 2x PGA Championship winner (2012, 2014)
The second golfer on the list is a more recent figure on the tour, in Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman is a four-time major champion, with three of those victories coming in the States. He has also won the season-ending prize on the PGA Tour in his short career.
McIlroy turned professional in 2007, and secured his first victory on the European Tour in 2009, with his first win on the PGA Tour coming a year later. He had the chance to secure a first major title at Augusta in 2011, but suffered a dramatic final-round collapse, which saw him lose his four-shot lead, and finish T15 for the tournament.
Just two months later, he recovered to secure his first major title by winning the US Open in some style at Congressional. McIlroy set a record for the lowest-aggregate score in the tournament’s history, with a 268, with his -16 finishing score also the lowest in US Open history.
A year later, McIlroy secured his second major title, winning the PGA Championship for the first time. He won the title at Kiawah Island, winning by eight strokes, like he did at Congressional a year earlier. McIlroy won the PGA Championship for a second time in 2014, his third major on American soil.
The Northern Irishman has also won The Open, which he did just before his second PGA title. He has also won the FedEx Cup, in 2016, along with being only the second person (Luke Donald) to finish top of both the European Tour and PGA Tour money lists in the same season, doing so in 2012.
European Ryder Cup team – Miracle at Medinah in 2012
It isn’t technically British, but we had to add in the European team’s famous victory in the Ryder Cup in 2012 at Medinah. Having gone 10-4 down at one point on the Saturday afternoon, Jose Maria Olazabal’s men miraculously came back to win 14.5-13.5 on the Sunday evening to win the trophy.
In the Saturday afternoon fourballs, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia won their match to bring the score back to 10-5, before Ian Poulter went on one of his typical Ryder Cup runs. He birdied the last five holes to Europe a sixth point, alongside partner Rory McIlroy.
On the Sunday, Europe needed eight points to retain the Cup, while the American team needed just 4.5 points to keep it on their shores. They started brilliantly, putting the first four points on the bored. Luke Donald, Paul Laurie, McIlroy and Ian Poulter all won to make it 10-10.
Wins further down the field for Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood made it 13-13, with Europe needing a point from the last two matches to retain the Ryder Cup. Martin Kaymer holed the putt to win his match and take Europe to 14 points, before Francesco Molinari earned a half in the final game to make it 14.5-13.5, completing the biggest comeback on foreign shores in the tournament.
Follow Matt Coles on Twitter @mattjcoles
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