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YOUTH PERSONIFIED ON THE PGA TOUR

Sent on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jordan’s Spieth’s four-stroke victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was a significant development both personally for Spieth and for the PGA TOUR. The win Feb. 12 at Pebble Beach Golf Links was the ninth of Spieth’s career in 100 starts. At 23 yJordan’s Spieth’s four-stroke victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was a significant development both personally for Spieth and for the PGA TOUR. The win Feb. 12 at Pebble Beach Golf Links was the ninth of Spieth’s career in 100 starts. At 23 years of age, Spieth is the second youngest to reach nine wins, trailing only Tiger Woods. He passed Jack Nicklaus, who was barely 24 when he won his ninth title.

In the bigger picture, Spieth was the seventh straight player in his 20s to win on TOUR, tying the longest streak in TOUR history dating to 1970. Other winners in this streak include Hideki Matsuyama, who has risen to No. 5 in the world, one spot ahead of Spieth. Matsuyama, of course, is a past winner of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.

Justin Thomas won both Hawaii events to start the year and shot an opening-round 59 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Jon Rahm, Hudson Swafford, Mackenzie Hughes and Cody Gribble are the others who have won in the streak with Swafford the oldest at age 29.

Young players have always been a force in golf. Bobby Jones was 14 when he first gained attention at the U.S. Amateur. Jack Nicklaus nearly won the U.S. Open at age 20 as an amateur. Francis Ouimet and Gene Sarazen were 20 when they won U.S. Open early in the previous century.

But the professional ranks have never been so heavily populated with young players ready to win.

Is this an anomaly? Or the new normal?

“This has been a paradigm shift in that direction and this is the new normal,” said CBS Sports veteran broadcaster Gary McCord. “You don’t see so many young guys taking off and winning like we have right now. Their ball speed is over 175 mph, and they’re not afraid. That’s a pretty lethal combination. So, yeah, I expect it to continue.”

Spieth is the one who has inspired this run by other young guns. He won two majors, the Masters and U.S. Open, at age 21 in 2015, driving players like Thomas, one of his close friends, to work harder and push the envelope.

“It was frustrating sometimes seeing some friends my age do well,” Thomas said of the motivation from his peers.” Not because I wasn't cheering for them, but because I feel like I was as good as them.”

Women’s golf has always had its share of young stars, whether it was Michelle Wie playing against the men at age 13 or Lydia Ko, the current No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the men moved in that direction.

“There's a lot of young incredible talent that's on the top of their game, going back to the end of last year and to throughout this year,” Spieth said. “Justin, Hideki, playing as well as anybody, Rory's going to be coming back from injury; obviously, he had a great finish to the year, and wish him well coming back. J-Day is going to get in a rhythm. … I think it’s cool. It’s great to see.”

ears of age, Spieth is the second youngest to reach nine wins, trailing only Tiger Woods. He passed Jack Nicklaus, who was barely 24 when he won his ninth title.

In the bigger picture, Spieth was the seventh straight player in his 20s to win on TOUR, tying the longest streak in TOUR history dating to 1970. Other winners in this streak include Hideki Matsuyama, who has risen to No. 5 in the world, one spot ahead of Spieth. Matsuyama, of course, is a past winner of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.

Justin Thomas won both Hawaii events to start the year and shot an opening-round 59 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Jon Rahm, Hudson Swafford, Mackenzie Hughes and Cody Gribble are the others who have won in the streak with Swafford the oldest at age 29.

Young players have always been a force in golf. Bobby Jones was 14 when he first gained attention at the U.S. Amateur. Jack Nicklaus nearly won the U.S. Open at age 20 as an amateur. Francis Ouimet and Gene Sarazen were 20 when they won U.S. Open early in the previous century.

But the professional ranks have never been so heavily populated with young players ready to win.

Is this an anomaly? Or the new normal?

“This has been a paradigm shift in that direction and this is the new normal,” said CBS Sports veteran broadcaster Gary McCord. “You don’t see so many young guys taking off and winning like we have right now. Their ball speed is over 175 mph, and they’re not afraid. That’s a pretty lethal combination. So, yeah, I expect it to continue.”

Spieth is the one who has inspired this run by other young guns. He won two majors, the Masters and U.S. Open, at age 21 in 2015, driving players like Thomas, one of his close friends, to work harder and push the envelope.

“It was frustrating sometimes seeing some friends my age do well,” Thomas said of the motivation from his peers.” Not because I wasn't cheering for them, but because I feel like I was as good as them.”

Women’s golf has always had its share of young stars, whether it was Michelle Wie playing against the men at age 13 or Lydia Ko, the current No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the men moved in that direction.

“There's a lot of young incredible talent that's on the top of their game, going back to the end of last year and to throughout this year,” Spieth said. “Justin, Hideki, playing as well as anybody, Rory's going to be coming back from injury; obviously, he had a great finish to the year, and wish him well coming back. J-Day is going to get in a rhythm. … I think it’s cool. It’s great to see.”


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