Old vs. Young on the PGA Tour
On consecutive days this week David Toms, 44, banished his Players Championship demons at Colonial and Davis Love III, 47, was one of eight players who qualified for July’s British Open. That DLIII’s back was spared the full 36-hole treatment by a storm is relevant only to his caddie and physical therapist.
The Tour’s marketing strategy this season has a distinct young vs. old overtone, fueled by a media guide that featured Jim Furyk (oldish at 41) and Rickie Fowler (the 22-year-old face of Generation Y-not), with a dash of Matt Kuchar (the Tour’s resident mid-pro at 32) thrown in. But as of late, age has started to hold its own with beauty in the “wins” column.
Toms’ victory on Sunday at Colonial was the second consecutive for a fortysomething following K.J. Choi’s, 40, victory at The Players’ All-40 finale.
“I'm going to have to go to my barber tomorrow and get something to cover this gray up. It has been a roller coaster,” Toms said following his eventful fortnight.
All total, the over-40 set has four victories this year compared to seven for the twentysomethings, a number padded by Nick Watney’s victory at Doral and Aaron Baddeley’s breakthrough in Los Angeles, both within a month of their 30th birthdays.
In fact, of those seven twentysomethings, none were younger than 26. The point? For all of Ponte Vedra Beach’s hype, golf does not set up well for generational clashes.
With apologies to Boston’s Tim Wakefield, the 44-year-old knuckleballer who held the Chicago Cubs to one run on the same day Toms held on to win his first Tour tilt in more than five years by one stroke, no other sport rewards experience over youthful energy like golf.
What else could explain Tom Watson, see Turnberry, 2009 Open Championship; or Greg Norman, see Royal Birkdale, 2008 Open? Or Fred Couples each spring at Augusta National?
If one doubts the resilience, or relevance, of experience then look no further than this year’s money leaders. 2001 called, it wants its money list back, with both Toms and Choi among this young season’s top 5 cash grabbers.
In some ways Toms’ Thursday and Friday three-ball at TPC Sawgrass was an apropos microcosm of how long in the tooth can clip long off the tee given the right conditions and the right golf course. For the first two rounds at The Players Toms outplayed Jason Day by five strokes and Anthony Kim to the tune of 16 shots, two of the circuit’s young gun poster-players who are a combined 48 years old.
“I watched those two guys hit 3-wood probably 70 percent of the time around the golf course, and that was the way for them to play the golf course,” Toms said on Friday at Sawgrass. “But for me it kind of evens out because if I was aggressive and hit driver and I could get it into the right spot, I was right there with them, so I wasn't way behind the guys all two days.”
In some ways, the threesome was a clinic of sorts for Day and Kim, if not those who wish to rush the next class to the top of the heap without the proper competitive vetting.
“On No. 4 on Thursday he hits this drive down the left side and he’s maybe 10 yards left of where he was aiming and he was like, ‘Bite,’” Day recalled. “I’m like come on. How good is this guy flushing it? He hits that little cut and he’s a silly putter.”
Bomb and gorge may be the future, but a baby cut and hot putter has no expiration date.
Even Tiger Woods, who after four knee surgeries and another extended stay on the disabled list is starting to look every bit his 35 years, took the long view on Tuesday when he was asked about his chances to reach Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships: “It took Jack over what, 24 years, 23 years to do what he did. It takes time. I still have plenty of time, and I feel that going forward I'm excited about playing major championships and playing golf again. I just want to be healthy and solid, and I feel like I can give it a go.”
The Tour’s desire for new blood – particularly considering Woods’ extended slump, which is now at 20 official Tour events without a trophy presentation, the longest of his career – is certainly understandable. Just don’t expect the old guys to go quietly.
Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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
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.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
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.