American golfers do not have history going for them if they hope to use the 117th British Open to regain their lost international prestige.

No American has won the oldest of all the world's golf championships since Tom Watson scored his fifth British Open triumph in 1983.And, no American pro has ever won the British Open at Royal Lytham, the site of the championship which begins Thursday.

Bobby Jones, an amateur, won at Lytham in 1926. But in the six Opens at Lytham since, the winners have been an Australian (Peter Thomson, 1958), a New Zealander (Bob Charles, 1963), an Englishman (Tony Jacklin, 1969), a South African (Gary Player 1974) and a Spaniard (Seve Ballesteros, 1979).

There have been some recent foreign successes, such European upset triumphs in the Ryder Cup matches of '85 and '87, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam dominating world play in 1986 and '87, Sandy Lyle's Masters victory this year.

Yet, the perception of an "us vs. them" confrontation is not completely shared by American players.

"You don't think of it in those terms," said Curtis Strange, who scored his third victory of the season by beating Nick Faldo of England in a playoff for the U.S. Open.