Elders Knock Kids Off Tour Perch

By George WhiteDecember 23, 2003, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of articles highlighting the top stories of 2003. Check back through the end of the year to see the rest of the list.
 
2003 Stories of the YearThey are certainly older now, the gray has started to creep in, the waist lines have started to get slightly larger. But - so have the victories. The Year of the Veteran was 2003, a golf season in which no less than a 11 different players over 40 years of age have wins.
 
Would you like to talk about Vijay Singh, Scott Hoch, Fred Couples or Kenny Perry? How about 50-year-old Craig Stadler or 49-year-old Peter Jacobsen? An old warhorse like Bob Tway or John Huston, someone like Kirk Triplett, or relative unknowns like J.L. Lewis or Tommy Armour III? All won this year, and all are old enough to have grandkids.
 
In fact there are no grandchildren among the bunch, but their children are mostly in the 18-and-above range. And after the Year of the Youngster in 2002, the aging gents took over the spotlight this year.
 
What happened? Why did these men start winning again, just when conventional wisdom says they should start winding down? If this form holds up, the Champions Tour is about to become much more competitive.
 
You know, I got to be honest with you - I never think of my age when I tee it up out here, said Jacobsen. I joke about it because people ask about it. I crawled up the hill on 17 there and people were yelling, go Jake. I said, Let me catch my breath. I got a little winded coming up the hill. In fact, I got light-headed screaming at you.
 
I joke about it. Today when I am playing with Chris Riley, or Aaron Baddeley or Tiger Woods, I'm not thinking about age.
 
But there are reasons why the over-40 set was dominant this year. It starts with the over-40s themselves. And look at their conditioning. Look at their equipment. And ' well ' look at their wins.
 
I've worked out more, said Jay Haas, who turned 50 Dec. 2. You can't get a seat in the fitness trailer anymore. Everybody does it - or most everyone, young and old. To me it would be easy for the young guys to do it, but when I was young I didn't, just because I felt like I didn't need to.
 
But just with the standard of play that's seemingly elevated every year and every week - and what Tiger and the other guys have put out there for us - I think we all believe that that certainly can only help exercising and being more fit. I guess I'm looking six or eight years down the road still trying to be competitive on the Champions Tour.
 
No one is denying that equipment gets partial credit. These guys find they can rope it 20, 30 yards further with the new-age metals as they could with the old clubs. Putters have improved tremendously when it comes to resisting torque ' or twisting. There is definitely a difference with the balls. It doesnt take just muscle anymore ' EVERYONE hits it a long way, the over-40s as well as the 20s.
 
I got this new driver, deep-face TaylorMade driver that goes forever, said Perry. The X ball from Titleist goes forever. I know I don't have the same club head speed back when I was 25. There is no way. But I'm able to hit it just as far, or maybe even further. I think that has been a big deal to all of us is equipment.
 
Sometimes, just seeing the over-40s do well is enough to get the other graybeards playing better. Davis Love III, who is standing firm at 39 years of age, noticed that earlier in the year, and once one of the elders got hot, the others couldnt help but follow.
 
A guy like Kenny Perry inspires a lot of people, who say, Hey, Kenny's playing good, we can all follow along with him, said Love. And Jay Haas - it's fun to watch a guy like that play good. He's a veteran guy that's a great player. And then obviously you get inspirational ones like Freddie. I guess part of it is just success of the older guys breeds more success for us.
 
And pride? I think pride enters into it, too, said Jacobsen. It's no surprise. Craig (Stadler) is another one in my age group and I think, Would you look at this guy? If he can do it, I can do it. You can always light the burner and get the fire going again. Sometimes it takes your fellow competitors to do it.
 
And theres no denying that experience has had a lot to do with it. Thats huge, said Perry.
 
You can't put a price on experience because you know playing 17 years out here, I know where all of these pins have been. You kind of understand how the golf course is going to play, where they will stick the flagsticks - when they are in those positions you know where to hit the ball.
 
I have had a lot of putts that are similar. I had this putt I don't know how many times. You get a good feel for the putt and, you know, I'm just not as uptight as I used to be. I'm very relaxed, going out there if I play good great. If I don't fine. Let's find out what's wrong and fix it.
 
As you get older, says Price, you get smarter, hopefully. You don't make as many mistakes. When you make mistakes on the golf course, you try not to beat yourself.
 
The older men dont live solely for golf, not at their age. They have a variety of interests, things that dont really involve the younger men. Families are an all-consuming passion, as well as other outside interests
 
I have more time now, said Nick Price. My life is more my own now. And I certainly dictate, you know, what I want to do in my life.
 
My family comes first, obviously. And then my golf. But I have such a wonderful balance in my life now and that's thanks to my wife and family, because they don't mind me going away for two weeks at a time. But I'm home an awful lot. It's definitely a great time for me right now.
 
A little maturity has served Perry very well.
 
I don't feel as guilty working on my game, he says. I kind of refocused and dedicated myself to the game a little bit. My oldest (daughter) is in college, my other two, I have a senior and sophomore. They're doing real well.
 
I felt guilty being out here because they always wanted me to come home. It seems like now I am just pushing harder. I'm trying to enjoy what few years I have left out here.
 
For that reason, says Haas, the over-40 set will always be more comfortable than the 20s and 30s.
 
I enjoy my time at home more than I used to, I guess, Haas says. But I think just being passionate about the game is probably the most important thing for me. I think this year I have a renewed passion for the game. I keep saying that.
 
You know, I kind of went out with the idea, I have nothing to lose this year. I'm exempt for the Champions Tour, I don't have to worry about making (the top) 125 (on the money list), what am I going to do the next year and all of that. I just kind of relaxed. I was very relaxed starting off the year. It's just kind of built on itself. I tried to have that same mindset the whole year.
 
Its that relaxed demeanor that has proved so successful to these middle-aged men. Life is good, the golf is good, and the wins were never better.
 
Related Links:
  • No. 1: Sorenstam's Season Transcends Wins
  • No. 2: Tiger Goes Majorless in 2003
  • No. 3: What a Year for Watson
  • No. 4: Player of Year Down to the Wire
  • No. 5: Elders Knock Kids Off Tour Perch
  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: