Tiger Woods was eliminated yesterday when he blasted a 3-wood into the Arizona desert and lost to Thomas Bjorn in the first round of the WGC World Match Play event. That was after Woods made a putt on the 18th to extend the match to an extra hole. It turned out that putt only delayed the inevitable.
Phil Mickelson was pummeled by Rickie Fowler today, 6 and 5. Phil was 1-up after three holes. He didn't win another hole as Fowler was nine under for a span of 13 holes at one point.
Lee Westwood, the current world No. 1, lost to Nick Watney today as well. This marks the third year in the row the world No. 1 has not made it out of the second round in this event.
Between Woods and Mickelson, the only tournament win in the last year and a half was last April at the Masters when Mickelson won his third green jacket. The last time Woods won was September 2009. The last time Mickelson won before last April, was September of 2009.
Westwood, who achieved No. 1 status during the epic downfall of Woods and a string of steady, if unspectacular, play last won a tournament in June 2010. Before that, November of 2009.
Are we seeing the beginning of the end for some of the biggest names in golf in our generation, Ryder Cup and President's Cup stalwarts who thrilled us with their play? One is inclined to think so.
But it's okay.
Paul Casey, currently sixth in the world, has a win this year on the European Tour, but before that, his last win was in May 2009.
Vijay Singh, the three-time major champion, has not won in two and a half years.
Ernie Els had gone two years without a win until he took two wins in March of last year, but has not had another since then.
Retief Goosen's last win? Nearly two years ago.
Gone are the days of Padraig Harrington and Jesper Parnevik and Davis Love III. They are joining players who have already rode off into the sunset. The list includes players like Colin Montgomerie, who seemingly fell off the earth.
Heck, even a young guy like Sergio Garcia has been rendered irrelevant in the onslaught of talent we are seeing now.
And you know what? It's okay.
This is the nature of sports. Players get older, they can't compete at the highest levels forever. Younger players in every sport take over for the wily veterans, learning the tips and tricks that those vets learned from players before them.
This is what I love about sports. It is in constant change, but within that change, there is a continuity.
I tell my son all the time that I wish he could have seen Jordan and Gretzky in their prime.
And some day he is going to say something similar to his son about Albert Pujols, or Peyton Manning, or Sidney Crosby.
Am I going to miss the way Mickelson goes for absolutely every shot as if it might be the last swing he might ever take. Yes, I am.
At the same time, though, I'm going to enjoy watching these young guys chase the records the players of our generation, and generations past, set.
There may never be another Tiger Woods. Then again, everyone said there would never be another Jack Nicklaus. The truth is, there will never be another Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. There will only be other players who try to do what Tiger and Jack have done.
And, yes, that's okay.
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