Story 9 Young Guns Firing

By Rex HoggardDecember 12, 2008, 5:00 pm
Top 10 StoriesAnthony Kim was fidgeting nervously, his attention split between his cell phone and the flat-screen television mounted on the wall of the Dove Mountain clubhouse, when the imposing figure of Tiger Woods drifted down the hallway.
 
You good? asked the world No. 1 on his way to the first tee for his opening-round match against J.B. Holmes at this years WGC-Match Play Championship.
 
All good, Kim smiled.
 

Coming of Age

20-something winners on the PGA Tour in 2008
 
D.J. Trahan, 27 ' Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
J.B. Holmes, 25 ' FBR Open
Sean OHair, 25 ' PODS Championship
Andres Romero, 26 ' Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Johnson Wagner, 28 ' Shell Houston Open
Trevor Immelman, 28 ' Masters
Adam Scott, 27 ' Byron Nelson Championship
Anthony Kim, 22 ' Wachovia Championship
Sergio Garcia, 28 ' The Players Championship
Anthony Kim, 23 ' AT&T National
Chez Reavie, 26 ' Canadian Open
Parker McLachlin, 29 ' Reno-Tahoe Open
Camilo Villegas, 26 ' BMW Championship
Camilo Villegas, 26 ' Tour Championship
Dustin Johnson, 24 ' Turning Stone Resort Champ.
 
' Rex Hoggard


Its well documented that Kim used Woods renowned work ethic and dedication as a model to break out of what the second-year Tour player described as a self-destructive lifestyle. These days its easy to imagine Woods eyeing Kim, the media-friendly front man of what has become a productive and promising youthful crop.
 
Twentysomethings accounted for 15 of the 48 Tour titles in 2008, with Kim and Colombias Camilo Villegas leading the way with two keepsakes apiece. The average age of a Tour champion was 33.5 and more titles went to players in their 20s than in their 40s (nine).
 
Day care may not have replaced experience on Tour, but in 2008 the pendulum swayed further in the direction of youth than at any time during the Woods era. And at no time were the fresh faced more fearless than during a seven-week early-summer stretch.
 
Twentysomethings won six of seven events starting with Andres Romeros victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Included in that run was Trevor Immelmans Masters breakthrough, where the South African became the first 20-something not named Woods to win a major since Geoff Ogilvy was the last man standing in 2006 at Winged Foot.
 
It may not be the dominant youth movement the late Earl Woods once predicted, but some consider 2008 the first step in a changing of the guard.
 
Just look at what Camilo has done for the FedEx Cup series, two back-to-back victories. Now that should give him a lot of energy to take into 2009, Greg Norman said.
 
If I'm Tiger sitting there, I'm going, wow, now these kids are going to be more enthusiastic and more confident, and the game of golf is going to be the great benefactor here because now you've probably got another five, six players that can step up to the plate. . . now you've got a lot of young players out there who are really ready, willing and able to pick up their confidence and really go for it.
 
The under-30 set put a punctuation mark on the season at the Ryder Cup, where the United States side featured three players in their 20s, including Kim, Hunter Mahan ' who did not win in 2008 but finished 30th in earnings ' and Holmes. The threesome combined for a 6-1-5 record at Valhalla, including tree-rattling Sunday singles routs against Garcia (Kim, 5 and 4) and Soren Hansen (Holmes, 2 and 1),
 
I think there's some younger guys who are really stepping up and winning some golf tournaments and are going to have the opportunity to play some golf against (Woods) and maybe contend in some more golf tournaments, said Kim, who, at 22, was the youngest winner on Tour in 08.
 
Maybe even more encouraging for those who have awaited a fresh crop of Tiger challengers is the new faces who emerged in 2008. Joining Adam Scott, 27; Garcia, 28; Kim and Villegas in the winners circle this year were Romero, Johnson Wagner, 28, and hard-swinging Dustin Johnson, the 24-year-old who broke out of a late-season slump to win the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
 
And the list of promising players in their 20s who didnt win in 08 gives more weight to the notion that the Tour is more Gen X than Geritol.
 
Woods injury-induced midseason hiatus may partially explain the surge in youthful champions. More measured expectations have also helped the up-and-coming adjust to life on Tour.
 
Until the new guy reached that level they were touted as the next Tiger Woods and there was a lot of money thrown at them and we had a succession of underachieving stars, said Rocky Hambric, Johnsons manager with Hambric Sports. Since then companies have cut back how much they pay and people have been less willing to jump on the bandwagon.
 
Younger champions is a trend that will likely continue in 2009, but the U.S. Golf Associations plan to dial back grooves may slow the climb for some of the twentysomethings.
 
The return to V grooves, which are designed to restore the challenge of playing shots from the rough, will begin with the 2010 season and will force players to learn a new skill set.
 
Some of the young guys will have to learn about flier lies and what shots to hit which they havent had to learn, Hambric said. That will probably set the trend back a little bit.
 
For now, however, the twentysomethings have arrived. Or, as Kim might offer, its all good.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''