The Open Championship 2013: Most Impressive Youngsters at Muirfield
The Open Championship was about both old and new.
Phil Mickelson (sorry, Phil) took care of the former, becoming the oldest player to win a major since 1995, per ESPN's Justin Ray:
At 43, Phil Mickelson is the oldest player to win a major since Ben Crenshaw won the 1995 Masters.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 21, 2013
And it was a handful of promising players who took care of the latter, providing proof that the future of golf is in very capable hands.
Among those who didn't even make it on the list below include 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, arguably the biggest burgeoning star on the Tour, who finished 44th, 23-year-old Bud Cauley, who finished 32nd in his first Open Championship, and 18-year-old amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick, who finished 44th in his first-ever major.
Yet there were still somehow some young guns who even outplayed that trio at Muirfield.
Let's take a look at the rest of the tantalizing youth movement from the thrilling week.
Hardcore golf fans will remember Hideki Matsuyama as the teenager who carded the best amateur score at The Masters in 2011, but it's safe to say everyone knows his name now.
In just his second major as a pro last month (he finished 54th at The Masters in 2012), the 21-year-old from Japan shot a blistering 67 on Sunday to launch himself into a tie for 10th place.
This weekend, he was far more consistent throughout the week, going 71-73-72-70 on his way to a tie for sixth place with a couple of decent players named Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson.
What's more, it could have still been better. If it weren't for a slow-play penalty that cost Matsuyama a stroke on Saturday, he would have finished in a tie for third, which would have earned him an automatic spot in next year's Masters:
How costly was Hideki Matsuyama's 1 stroke slow play penalty at Open? He was 1 shot shy of top 4 who get automatic invite to Masters— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) July 21, 2013
Still, that's now just three majors as a pro—and two top-10 finishes. He is now ranked 34th in the world and will continue to be a mainstay at majors in the future.
It's only appropriate that a guy named Harris English would explode onto the major scene with a dashing performance at The Open Championship.
Of course, those who know the 23-year-old out of the University of Georgia will be quick to point out that he's been on the scene for a while. After compiling three top-10 finishes in 2012, English earned his first PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic last month.
Nevertheless, a 15th-place finish at The Open very well may turn a few more heads.
English, who is now up to a projected 15th in the FedEx Cup standings and ranked 79th in the world, started his week slowly by triple-bogeying on No. 18 to fall to three-over after Round 1.
He showed terrific resolve, though, shooting an even-par 71 on Friday. After another rough round on Saturday, he finished the tourney with his best round (70) while everyone else seemed to be faltering.
After just his second major appearance, English is clearly poised for big things.
Born in England, Danny Willett put on a nice little show for the home crowd.
Which youngster most impressed you this week?
Although he wasn't able to finish as the highest British player, a 15th-place finish in just his third major appearance (he missed the cut at the previous two) is spectacular.
After shooting a four-over 75 on Thursday, Willett settled down, going just plus-two over the next three days in order to secure a tie with players such as Matt Kuchar and Keegan Bradley.
The 25-year-old's ceiling may not be quite as high as the other players on this list, but he deserves recognition for his memorable week.
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