Epic Final of WGC-Accenture Match Play Highlights Golf Stars of Tomorrow

Mike DudurichContributor IFebruary 24, 2014

Jason Day with a well-deserved winner's trophy.
Jason Day with a well-deserved winner's trophy.Matt York/Associated Press

These guys really are young. Their birth certificates will verify their age.

The question is: How in the world can players so young be so good in the very difficult game of professional golf?

The latest example of this was on display under the setting sun in the Arizona desert, where it took 22 holes to determine a champion in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

The combatants in that marathon final? Twenty-six-year-old Jason Day and 23-year-old Victor Dubuisson.

Day has been a regular on the PGA Tour since 2009 and is one of that small group from whom great things are expected.

Dubuisson has won once on the European Tour, in the 2013 Turkish Open in November. He's a guy very few golf fans in the United States know much about. But after the gauntlet he went through Sunday, many more now do.

The show in Sunday's final was spectacular, ending when Day sunk a putt on the 23rd hole to win the biggest event of his career. And now the spotlight on him is even brighter and will really amp up early in April when golf returns to Augusta National for the Masters.

Day almost won the 2013 Masters and will be heavily favored in a little over a month.

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Feb 23, 2014; Marana, AZ, USA; Jason Day shakes hands with Victor Dubuisson after playing the 22nd hole and winning the final round of the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Mandatory Credit: Ca
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If it were just a couple of young guns doing the shooting, it would be viewed as an aberration. But these two are just the tip of the iceberg.

How about Rickie Fowler (23), Jordan Spieth (20), Webb Simpson (28), Billy Horschel (27) and Harris English (24)?

They were part of a pretty amazing statistic this week. Four of the final eight (Day, Spieth and Fowler and Dubuisson) and three of the final four (Day, Dubuisson and Fowler) were golfers in their early to mid-20s.

Now an easy explanation to this could be that most of these guys played plenty of match play golf in college, in their amateur careers and, for some, international play like the Walker Cup.

But the greatness these guys possess goes beyond match play familiarity.

The aforementioned group has won 10 PGA Tour events, including Webb Simpson's victory in the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.

This group was in the limelight this week because they were knocking off match play kingpins Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia.

Remember the days when a golf tournament wasn't deemed worth watching if Tiger Woods and/or Phil Mickelson hadn't entered? Did anyone notice that the two elder statesmen weren't in Arizona this past week?

These youngsters are dynamic, they're personable and all of their bags are filled to the brim with game. What sets them apart from other youngsters who flashed onto the PGA Tour scene is their mental toughness.

A prime example was how Day was able to win Sunday. He won the ninth hole to go 3-up in the match. He didn't win another hole until the last one.

Victor Dubuisson makes magic from the cactus.
Victor Dubuisson makes magic from the cactus.Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

That's a tough way to win a match, having to constantly play well enough to make pars. But for Day, he had to witness a pair of chips by Dubuisson from the cactus that defied description and logic.

Both approach shots missed the green, landing in the desert and under brush as well as uncomfortably close to a very prickly cactus. Dubuisson took a quick look at each shot, addressed the ball and slashed it onto the green on both occasions.

The PGA Tour is in good shape because it has Woods, Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els, all major champions. It also has today's stalwarts like Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Peter Hanson and Zach Johnson.

But if this group of young stars continues on its upward track and wins a major or two among them, any concerns about what the tour will do when it comes time to transition from Tiger's greatness and Phil's magnetic personality and up-and-down game to the next generation should become a non-issue.

Will any of these guys put together the kind of Hall of Fame careers that Woods and Mickelson have? Very hard to answer that because of all the variables that need to be considered. The bottom line is this: It's hard to remember a group possessing this much talent and know-how.

These young guns are superstars in the making.

The fun part will be sitting back and watching how they develop.