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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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.