Wheres the Next Big Wave - COPIED

By December 19, 2006, 5:00 pm
2007 Big Questions Editor's Note: TheGolfChannel.com is counting down its top 5 stories from the world of golf in 2006 and looking ahead to the five 'Big Questions' on the PGA TOUR in 2007. This is our No. 5 question for the upcoming season.
A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to Ireland this past fall.
And no, it wasnt the total beat down Team Europe gave the U.S. in the Ryder Cup. Heck, that train wreck was so bad it was almost funny. Just ask Woosie.
No, the unfunny part was the glaring light it shined on the lack of youth being served on the American side.
Although U.S. captain Tom Lehman had four rookies on the team, the average age of those four was 31. Not one player on the U.S. squad was in their 20s.
Lucas Glover
Lucas Glover finished up ranked 21st on the PGA TOUR money list in 2006.
So this became the question: Are Americans just going through a phase or is this cause for alarm?
It depends on who you ask, of course, but Jim Furyk doesnt seem too concerned.
It's cyclical. This is the same story two years ago, it was the young guns. It's like every odd year we have the young guns story and there's these five guys that come out and win a tournament, and all of a sudden, look out Tiger and Phil because these guys are going to be kicking for the next three years, and the stories go that way,' Furyk said.
Then all of a sudden two years later there's not a guy in the top 50 under 30 and the world is coming to an end. There's no reason to really get too, too upset or too excited about things because things aren't usually as good as they seem and they're never as bad as they seem, also. Just kind of sit back and relax and think the whole subject over. I think we have quite a few very good young players in the U.S.
Good players maybe. Very good young players? Not so fast, Mr. Furyk. Like he mentioned, there is a no denying the fact that at the moment there is just one American ' Lucas Glover - in the top-50. Then drop all the way down to 69th for the second 20something American ' Sean OHair.
Tiger Woods didnt help the young set by what he was able to accomplish in his 20s, which of course leads to unreasonable comparisons. But looking to the past, it used to be the norm for the young guns to have better starts to their careers.
Names like Tom Watson, Curtis Strange and Ben Crenshaw all had racked up multiple wins before the 26th birthdays. Today, only Ben Curtis and Jonathan Byrd have more than one victory in their 20s. And those two names dont quite stack up against the international likes of Geoff Ogilvy, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Trevor Immelman and Paul Casey.
Multiple theories abound as to why international players in their 20s are having more success than their American counterparts.
I think one of the main differences between the two is travel, says Golf Channel and CBS analyst Peter Oosterhuis. The international players travel all across the world at such a young age in order to play. They turn pro at an early age and travel all over the world. This might help to toughen them up.
There is also a money factor, adds Oosterhuis. There is so much money in todays game that it could lead to a lack of desire. With all of the money that can be made, you really have to have lofty goals in order to stay competitive. You have to have a drive that goes beyond making a lot of money.
Troy Matteson
Troy Matteson closed the season with a victory and four other top-10 finishes.
And boy, is there plenty of money. The total purse on the PGA TOUR the year Tiger arrived in 1996 was $70,700,000. Now the number has exploded to the tune of a staggering $260,000,000.
With all that cash on the table, its also quite possible that many of the aging stars have decided to overhaul their training regimes to stay in shape and thus stay competitive. Plus, in golf, experience might possibly be the most important club in the bag, something the 20-years-olds dont yet quite have a handle on.
But there is at least hope, and it mostly comes in the form of raw power: Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Lucas Glover and Troy Matteson. All won over a $1 million this past season and all hit it a ton, especially Watson and Holmes, who finished the year ranked 1-2 in driving distance on the PGA TOUR.
Holmes was a four-time All-American at the University of Kentucky, earned medalist honors at the 2005 Q-school and quickly won in his rookie season with a dominant seven-stroke win at the FBR Open. His length also enabled him to lead the TOUR in total eagles.
And he doesnt shy away from knowing what his strength is.
A lot of people like to see people hit it a long ways. Bubba Watson hits it long, John Daly, Tiger Woods. Everybody likes to see somebody hit it a long ways because a lot of the fans, they can't do that, said Holmes. Most of them, if they play, they've made a 30-footer or something like that. It's something they've done. But they can't hit it 340, 350, whatever.
Enter Watson, he of the 319.6 yard average off the tee. A Nationwide Tour graduate, he too started the season strong with a T-4 at the Sony Open and a third-place showing at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. Despite finishing near the bottom of the driving accuracy rankings, he did enjoy a 100-hole bogey-free streak during the season.
The abovementioned Glover had a storied college career and has steadily risen in each of his three years on TOUR. In 2005, Glover really made a name for himself when his holed a 100-foot bunker shot on the final hole to win the FUNAI Classic at Disney. This season, although without a win, the 27-year-old finished 21st on the final money list due to eight top-10 results.
And then theres Matteson, probably the least known of this group, but perhaps the hottest heading into next year. After setting the Nationwide Tour record for winnings in 2005, the former Georgia Tech star struggled for most of his rookie season before catching fire near the end of the year with a pair of back-to-back top-10s at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic and the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
Suddenly armed with confidence to go along with his shot-making, Matteson then hit the jackpot, winning the Frys.com Open in Vegas for his maiden PGA TOUR win. A second-place finish the following week at Disney and another top-10 at the Chrysler Championship shot Matteson all the way up to an impressive 36th on the money list.
But will any of these 20somethings continue to make the progression to eventually make it into the top-10 in the world, or make a Ryder or Presidents Cup team? Or will someone like Sean OHair or Ryan Moore be the ones that make it near the top?
Those are questions that can only be answered out on the fairways in the next year or two. And hopefully, for the Americans' sake, sooner rather than later.
Related Links:
  • Reviewing 2006; Previewing 2007
  • Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.