This new rivalry isn’t anything like baseball’s Yankees and Red Sox or basketball’s Lakers and Celtics because golf challenges the stigma that age is a determinant of one’s ability to perform and compete. The 20 somethings challenged the established order in 2010 and now the older generation will undoubtedly respond, but with a vengeance.
Last year Tiger Woods plummeted from his throne and a plethora of talented youth, accurately titled by PGATour.com as the ‘New Breed,’ paved the way for a striking sense of parity that suffused the golf world. From the PGA to the European Tours, the under 30 generation proved that what they lacked in experience, they made up for in their overwhelming dynamism and perseverance.
Last April, Rory McIlroy, 22, sent shockwaves from the US all the way to his homeland in Holywood, Northern Ireland when he shot a course record 62 on Sunday to win the Wells Fargo Championship.
Rickie Fowler, 22, launched himself to the forefront of the professional golf scene in 2010, nearly winning the Memorial and Phoenix Waste Management Open, but still capturing seven top 10’s and Ryder Cup rookie honors.
But no young gun outshined Dustin Johnson, 25, who went on a rampage in 2010, winning twice, finishing in the top 10 in two major championships, and arguably elevating himself among the elite of professional golf.
These kids grew up watching Woods and Mickelson, but what about that bunch of players who learned the tricks of the trade from paradigms of golf like Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson and Player?
Prepare for the over 40 generation, what PGATour.com has appropriately labeled the “Establishment,” to take the Tour by storm. Led by determined vets like Steve Stricker, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk, experience matters and these guys have no shortage of it.
Goosen and Els don’t just own two of the sweetest swings in golf, but they’re both still extremely long off the tee, exceptional short game players and execute their iron shots with nearly flawless precision, which is probably how these young guns learned the ropes.
Not many guys on Tour can contend with Steve Stricker on the putting greens and this past season, Stricker proved he can do much more than putt, winning both the Northern Trust Open and the John Deere Classic.
Jim Furyk is all business, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still reveling in his Player of the Year award. Since 2005, Furyk hasn’t gone a season without at least seven top 10’s, meaning regardless of his unconventional swing or visibly stoic attitude on the golf course, the guy can downright perform, contend and challenge anyone willing to tee it up.