Players Championship 2012: Young Guns Prove They're Ready to Overtake Mainstays

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMay 14, 2012

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 13:  Rickie Fowler of the United States putts on the 14th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2012 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The final results of the 2012 Players Championship proved that the PGA Tour's younger players are capable and ready to overthrow the old guard.

If you're over the age of 30 you must be wondering where your favorite stars ended up when you take a look at the leaderboard: no Tiger Woods, no Phil Mickelson, no Justin Rose and no Lee Westwood.

Sure, the top leaders weren't exactly spring chickens—Matt Kuchar is 33, Ben Curtis is 34 and Zach Johnson is 36—but there were some young guns threatening to win the tournament, and given another season or two I'm sure they will.

Rickie Fowler has been coming on strong lately, and at the tender age of 23 he is just getting started. He first showed he was ready to step into the limelight in last year's Open Championship when he finished tied for fifth place. 

Then, just a week before this year's Players Championship, Fowler finally won his first tournament—the Wells Fargo Championship—against a fully-loaded, veteran field.

He just missed out on putting together another victorious final round at the Players this year, and Fowler is beginning to seriously contend for every major event he enters.

Kevin Na isn't as young in years as Fowler, but he's almost as new to the big stage. He unfortunately battled some demons regarding his swing at the Players, but he has the game to continue making his presence known on the PGA Tour.

Jhonattan Vegas is another younger player to keep your eye on in the future. This Venezuelan golfer is fun to watch, and he will continue rising through the ranks over the next few years.

Golf, like every other sport, has it's moments of transition from the old guard to the new. For the PGA Tour, the time is now.

Woods, Mickelson and the rest of the mainstays on tour aren't dead yet. They will continue making their presence known from time to time, but the youngsters are rising up the ranks and will soon overtake them for good.