In a roundabout way, that immortal line from Mr. Benny tells you why American golfers don't win the Masters any more. Simply put, their minds are elsewhere.

A major like the Masters is to tournament golf what cutting a diamond is to cutting your lawn. Unlike the stops on the PGA Tour, you don't win a major just because it's there.No, winning the Masters demands precision, patience and imaginative flair, and, most important of all, the kind of stubborn pride that refuses to settle for second-best.

Unfortunately, precious few American golfers today fit that bill of particulars. Those that do - Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson come immediately to mind - are reaching an age where their skills or the nerves, or both, will desert them somewhere over the course of four grueling rounds.

And few in the generation behind them, distracted by the easy money that makes millionaires out of even mediocre players, seem prepared to succeed them.

And so for chauvinists who still believe the only good golf being played today is in California or Florida and a few points in between, the news Sunday from Augusta National was all bad.

Adding in Welshman Ian Woosnam's victory, Europeans have now won seven of the last dozen Masters, including the last four. And the end is hardly in sight.

Woosnam is only 33, as are two other members of the so-called European "Big Six" - England's Nick Faldo and Germany's Bernhard Langer - and the oldest of the foreign bunch is 36-year-old Australian Greg Norman. Granted, Seve Ballesteros seems (and recently has been playing) much older than 34, but Jose-Maria Olazabal, another brilliant Spaniard who was runner-up to Woosnam on Sunday, is only 25.

By contrast, the youngest American to put a real scare into Woosnam during Sunday's final round was 39-year-old Ben Crenshaw, who wound up third at 9-under.Sure, Steve Pate (age 29) finished with the same total and fellow Americans Jodie Mudd and Andrew Magee finished just another stroke farther back; but who from that trio would you have backed against Woosnam in a playoff?

And just about every other American who mounted a credible threat at one point or another during this year's tournament is already pushing 40 or on the long side of it: Nicklaus is 51; Raymond Floyd, 48; Hale Irwin, who tied for fifth, is 45; Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson, who shared third place with Crenshaw and Pate, are both 41.

A couple of other Americans who might have met the challenge - Fuzzy Zoeller, Larry Mize and Mark McCumber - were heard from, but only briefly, and faintly at that. Curtis Strange, probably the best this country can muster for a major on any given day, remained mired in his slump.

After Sunday's round was in the books, Watson, who clung to Woosnam until the 72nd hole before falling back, was asked to explain the European domination at the Masters in recent years.

"I guess," he said simply, "they're better players."

But Watson was not guessing.

The Big Six already have six green jackets between them (seven if you expand the group to include enigmatic Scot Sandy Lyle) and most of the members of that group are just hitting their stride.

And none of their American contemporaries appear prepared to get in their way. Not when the man who filled the 50th spot on the PGA money list could bankroll nearly $300,000 without winning a single tournament. Consider: Wayne Levi, Payne Stewart, Paul Azinger, Mudd, Mark Calcavecchia and Fred Couples all finished in the Top 10 money-winners, each made at least three-quarters of a million dollars, and they have all of two majors between them.

Those same chauvinists referred to above are most likely to cite the lack of the Europeans' success in both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, but there is an answer for that as well.

It's true that no foreign player has won the U.S. Open since 1981 (when Australian David Graham did) and only two (Australian Wayne Grady last year and Graham, again, in 1979) have won the PGA.

But unlike the Masters, both of those tournaments place severe restrictions on the number of foreign entries, and if those are ever relaxed, pronunciation guides will become hot items in the network television booths. After all, Americans won all but two British Opens from 1970 until 1983, but only one (Calcavecchia) since then.

Competition on the European tour these days is sharper, the money is smaller and so the players are hungrier. It has been for the past few years. Shotmaking is better and more developed on the other side of the Atlantic because the weather is generally rougher during the season and the courses are not nearly as well groomed, nor as predictable as the cookie-cutter layouts used for most tour events here.

Trying to be diplomatic, Woosnam tackled the same question put to Watson this way: "You've only got a few solid players right now."

And unless they get their minds back on business, it's only going to get worse.