Male Pros Get Older Females Get Younger

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Pardon, mlord, but have you noticed something rather fascinating about professional golf lately? Why does age seem to be so important to success on the PGA Tour? And why does it mean so little to the women of the LPGA Tour?
 
Adam Scott sorta messes up the storyline here. Yeah, hes just 23, and yeah, he won last week. But the only under-30 winner this year prior to Scott was Tiger Woods. Tiger seems like hes in his 30s ' hes going on his eighth season and he already has 40 tour wins. But he was the full extent of the under-30s until Scott skewered the age thing at the Players.
 
Last year, there were 11 guys 40-and-over who won. Davis Love III was a four-time winner. One winner ' Craig Stadler ' was 50. Only six winners were in their 20s.
 
The stars of the LPGA could pass for most of the tour winners daughters. Oh, Annika Sorenstam is entering middle-age, golf-wise, at age 33. But on the LPGA, youre pretty much washed up by the time your 40, unless your last name is Inkster or Jones.
 
In the case of one particular 14-year-old, a 50-year-old winner on the PGA Tour could almost be her grandfather. Hey, Michelle Wie is young even for the kiddies who do female gymnastics. And 17-year-old Aree Song had to be given permission from LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw before she could join the tour. Wie, thankfully, hasnt taken that step yet.
 
Song set a record when she was in the final group at the Nabisco four years ago at age 13. That record was tied a year ago when Wie ' yes, just 13 ' played in the final group. Wie has already taken on the men of the PGA Tour ' she shot a 68 in this years Sony Open and missed the cut by just one stroke.
 
Grace Park is a grand old dame of 25. Yes, she remembers eight or nine years ago when she was a hot commodity on the American Junior Golf Association. But she interrupted her march to LPGA stardom for something called college ' a phrase with which much of the LPGA newcomers are not familiar. Grace has to think hard ' very hard ' to recall when she saw someone with as much potential as the teen-agers Wie and Song.
 
I played with Michelle for the first time today, she said during last weeks Nabisco, and she is incredible. She is more than what you all know. I mean she really impressed me and not only in her golf game. She was such a sweet 14 year old that I really enjoyed playing with her.
 
And Aree, she's got a tremendous amount of talent. She's already had a successful career and she just has much more to come.
 
At last weeks Nabisco ' an LPGA major won by Park ' only two players over 30 finished in the top 12. That, incidentally matched the number ' two ' who are teenagers - Wie and Song.
 
Sorenstam swallows hard when she considers what she was doing at age 14. Wie has broken 70 on the mens tour. Sorenstam still had a very difficult time breaking 100 on the Bro Balsta course in Sweden. She, too, has a difficult time comprehending it all.
 
Well, I mean, overall, she (Wie) is so talented, Sorenstam says. It must be great to be 14 and hit it that far, and I love her attitude. I think she's very brave on the golf course and just outside the golf course. I think she has improved since I played with her last year, just watching her on the range, et cetera. But still, she's very young, she has a lot to learn and I think she will do that by being out here.
 
Wies youthful physique stretches over 6 feet ' very tall, even for a young male. But she has learned to generate tremendous power with those long arms and legs. She routinely hits her driver 280 yards. Her short game has a ways to go to catch up, but she has made tremendous improvement in the last year.
 
I tell you what - I was watching Michelle's game from the beginning, said Park. Not because I wanted to create any kind of whatever - it's just she's 14, and it was my first time playing with her.
 
And somehow, Wie has kept a certain little-girl innocence. The other women have noticed it on the LPGA. Fame ' even as a teen-ager ' has not gone to her head. She still is a kid, and a genuinely nice one, at that.
 
I've known Michelle since she was 12, said Park. And she's always been sweet, funny, like to joke around and do that.
 
But on the golf course, she was deadly serious. There was not a sign that showed that she was 14 years old. And that was really impressive.
 
Lorena Ochoa was playing golf with the boys in Guadalajara, Mexico, when she was 14. She, too, cant believe how nice a person this 14-year-old Hawaiian is.
 
Shes unbelievable, Ochoa said. I wish her the best She brings a lot of people out to watch the tournaments. She's nice and people like her. It's positive for all of us that she's here. I respect her and I wish her the best.
 
The men are getting older, wiser ' and more skillful. The girls ' you cant really call teen-agers women yet ' seemingly are getting younger. But they are getting more skillful, too. Wie is a kid, but what a player. Song isnt quite as much a kid, but what a player, too. Grace Park, Annika Sorenstam ' are you listening?
 
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