Maybe 40 is the magic number


Ernie Els, who turned 40 last October, has already won twice in 2010, reviving a career stuck in neutral for years. Jim Furyk, who turns 40 in two weeks, has done the same, ending a victory drought that dated back to the summer of ’07. In June, Phil Mickelson turns 40. His stirring Masters triumph quieted the demons of Winged Foot and vaulted him to elite historical status — one of just two active players with four major titles.

In an era neatly defined by the presence of personal trainers and $6 million purses, a 40th birthday isn’t quite the scourge it once was. The year’s three best storylines have been produced by high-profile veterans supposedly staring down the barrel of conventional wisdom, and though none of the three guys appeared to be washed up, Els’ extended stretch of indifferent play was cause enough to believe his best days were behind him.

With all the attention aimed at Tiger Woods’ return to action in Charlotte this week, it’s worth noting that a trio of the game’s household names are proving that 40 is just a number. Not a bad one either, unless you’re a Tour pro adding up your score on Sunday’s back nine.