Monday, March 14, 2011

Golf's Generation Gap Closes

   While waiting for the Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods we remember to return -- a wait with no guarantees -- golf has gone young.

   Not Justin Bieber young but new generation young.

   It has happened through the years just as reliably as people sneezing in springtime. There was the Crenshaw-Kite-Wadkins era. The Faldo-Langer-Olazabal era. The Woods-Mickelson-Els era.

   And now, there's a new rush of fresh and fairly fresh faces at the top of the game again and that's a very good thing for professional golf. It would be even better if Woods and Mickelson can start winning again but we have reached the point where there's been another generational shift.

   Take the Cadillac Championship at Doral last week. Eleven of the 13 players who finished in front of or tied with Woods are younger than his 35 years.

   Look at the list of PGA Tour winners this year: Nick Watney. Bubba Watson. Jhonny Vegas. Luke Donald. Aaron Baddeley.

   Then throw in Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Martin Kaymer, to name a pretty good foursome.

   The game is in the midst of a transition and it's creating new stars. Watney's victory and his streak of seven straight top-10 finishes has made him the flavor of the week in the discussion about the best American player at the moment. Kuchar remains in the discussion, Johnson reinserted himself with his play at Doral and there are others.

   Tiger's closing 66 on Sunday hinted he might be ready for Augusta. Mickelson, a non-factor at Doral, added Bay Hill to his schedule in hopes of finding what's missing.

   In the meantime, a new generation has filled in quite nicely.


Anonymous said...

I agree there is a shift happening, but don't see any stars coming out of the mix. Lots of talent, but no one mentally ready or able to step up and be the star. They all seem to be able to find a way to lose. Also, too much money for them to care. Maybe as in other sports such as baseball and football, dominance by 1 individual or team is a thing of the past.

Matt said...

I will give you five names right now, and I sincerely believe that each one of these "young guns" will have at least 2 majors each by the time their careers are over:

1. Martin Kaymer

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Bubba Watson

4. Rory Mcilroy

5. Paul Casey

I think there are quite a few others that have a chance, but these are my top 5.

archie said...

Dustin Johnson may be the guy to finally emerge from golf's brat-pack. He's a freakishly long and solid driver of the ball, and that's been what has separated the great ones from the others in each of golf's major eras, from Jones to Snead to Nicklaus to Woods. They were just longer off the tee than any of their contemporaries and it gave them a relative advantage.

Ultimately, in a game of precision, it always comes down to power. Wedges into the ultra-long par 4's & 5's on today's Tour layouts beat 3 woods or long irons every day. Such as it is; such as it's always been.

Matt said...


I tend to agree with you about Dustin Johnson. However, I will also say that it wouldn't surprise me at all if 5 or 6 of these guys ended of with 3+ majors each by the time it is all said and done.

I don't see another 14-time major winner like Tiger coming along anytime soon.