The Youth Movement

By Randall MellMarch 2, 2010, 6:29 am
The PGA Tour felt fresh and full of possibility Sunday in the desert.

After eight weeks filled with too much dark news, the West Coast Swing ended with bright and shiny promise.

With Hunter Mahan outplaying Rickie Fowler down the stretch of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, golf’s youth movement continued to build momentum.
Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler looks to join the twentysomething winners in 2010. (Getty Images)
Mahan joined Dustin Johnson and Bill Haas as PGA Tour winners under 30 years old this season.

The game could use a youthful injection, and we seem to be getting just that.

Last year closed and this year opened with a run of momentous birthdays that was depressing.

Arnold Palmer had turned 80, Jack Nicklaus 70, Tom Watson 60, Fred Couples 50, Ernie Els 40 and Sergio Garcia 30.

The aging of many of the game’s biggest names was enough to make your bones creak.

It didn’t help when Trevor Immelman turned 30 on Dec. 16, leaving the sport with no major championship winners under 30.

That may be changing.

For all the talk about how this might have been the year Tiger Woods won the Grand Slam, there’s great opportunity available for golf’s emerging talent with Woods’ return uncertain. How about a Twentysomething Slam? It's far-fetched but worth pondering with youthful talent beginning to blossom.

Johnson (25), Mahan (27), Anthony Kim (24), Sean O’Hair (27), Camilo Villegas (27), Rory McIlroy (20), Martin Kaymer (25), Justin Rose (29) and Andres Romero (28) are among the twentysomething talent who have already contended in majors or shown promise that they’re ready to break through.

The promise is even more evident on the European Tour, where six of this season’s nine events have been won by players under 30.

Charl Schwartzel, the 25-year-old South African, has won twice. Germany’s Kaymer, Spain’s Pablo Martin (23), Scotland’s Richie Ramsay (26) and Australia’s Andrew Dodt have already won 2010 European Tour events.

Fowler may need some seasoning before he contends in majors, but he's on the right track. Adam Scott has yet to hit 30 but leads the youthful brigade with six PGA Tour titles.

Who are the best players under 30?

Here’s how this reporter ranks them:

1. Dustin Johnson
His victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am three weeks ago vaulted him to the top of this list. You don’t win back-to-back years there without being a special talent. He joined Sam Snead (1937-38), Cary Middlecoff (1955-56), Jack Nicklaus (1972-73), Tom Watson (1977-78) and Mark O’Meara (1989-90) as the only players to repeat as champs at Pebble Beach. Johnson is showing he’s more than a big hitter. There’s something about his unflappable temperament that makes him appear well suited to the pressure that comes in the biggest events.

2. Rory McIlroy
McIlroy is knocking on the door consistently despite his youth. He has finished sixth or better in five of his last six starts. His showings in the majors last year were impressive. He tied for 20th at the Masters, tied for 10th at the U.S. Open and tied for third at the PGA Championship. He also made the cut at the British Open, tying for 47th.

3. Anthony Kim
Kim’s immense talent caught the eye of Tiger Woods, which pretty much tells you everything. Woods knows what it takes and sees “it” in Kim. Of course, Kim must be sick of hearing that he isn’t getting the most out of his talent and appears eager to change those assessments. His record 11 birdies in the second round of last year’s Masters show what spectacular possibilities he possesses.

4. Camilo Villegas
The back-to-back FedEx Cup victories two seasons ago spoke to his potential. While he didn’t follow up meaningfully last year, he looks as if he’s finding his mojo again this season. He made it to the semifinals of the Accenture Match Play, knocking off Johnson along the way. He tied for ninth against a strong field at Qatar and tied for eighth against a quality field Sunday in Phoenix. His swing and putting stroke may not dazzle you, but he possesses a toughness that matters more.

5. Hunter Mahan
With his ball-striking skills, his Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup resume, it was perplexing why he had won just once coming into this season. He has been seventh or better in total driving on the PGA Tour three of the last four seasons. He was sixth in scoring last season and seventh in greens in regulation the year before that. The guy’s a gifted ball striker, but he’s never been among the Tour’s best putters. With his victory Sunday in Phoenix, he served notice. He’s figuring it out.

6. Charl Schwartzel
Back-to-back European Tour victories to start the season didn’t overwhelm you when you saw the fields, but he has four European Tour titles overall. He showed American audiences something beating Mahan and Jim Furyk to advance to the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play two weeks ago.

7. Sean O’Hair
O'Hair's three PGA Tour titles equals Johnson and trails only Scott among the twentysomethings. He was 10th on the PGA Tour in scoring last season while ranking 113th in putting per greens in regulation. He’s never finished among the top 100 in putting in his five seasons on Tour.

8. Martin Kaymer
With a victory at Abu Dhabi and a tie for fourth at Dubai, Kaymer made a strong statement at the start of the new season. His tie for sixth at the PGA Championship last August shows he's learning his way quickly in the world's biggest events.

9. Ross Fisher
Three European titles and strong showings in last year’s majors get him on this list. He finished fifth at the 2009 U.S. Open.

10. Ryo Ishikawa
At 18, he’s already won six Japan Tour events and played in the Presidents Cup.
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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.