Spieth, Matsuyama and Thomas lead golf's youth movement in 2017
The changing of the guard is becoming undeniable
The first six events of 2017 on the PGA Tour were won by Justin Thomas (twice), Hudson Swafford, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth. Combined age: 121. Average age: 24.2. That is astounding when you compare it to the way past seasons have started.
Here is a look at the average age of the first six winners of each of the last five years. This includes the Tournament of Champions, Sony Open, CareerBuilder Challenge, Farmers Insurance Open, Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
In 2013, a 37-year-old Tiger Woods and 42-year-old Phil Mickelson both won in the first six events. This year, a 22-year-old Rahm, two 23-year-olds (Thomas and Spieth) and a 24-year-old Matsuyama all won early. This doesn't mean the trend will continue all season, but we're off to quite a start.
"I think it's awesome what's happened this year in the game," said Spieth after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday. "I think it's seven straight winners or eighth straight winner in their 20s. It's amazing that that hasn't happened; I don't know if it's ever happened."
"What Justin did was something that I've seen for a number of years, so that wasn't that surprising," said Spieth, who had a pair of top-fives in Hawaii to Thomas' wins. "Hideki wasn't that surprising to me either. John Rahm's been highly talked about, so as a player, having practiced and played with these guys, certainly ... could see that coming. It wasn't too surprising."
The youth takeover is real, and it is spectacular.
Not only are young stars in their 20s winning a lot, but we expect them to win. When everybody tees it up this week at the Genesis Open, we expect Spieth or Thomas or Rahm or Matsuyama to win. And if they don't, then we expect somebody in their late 20s or early 30s (Jason Day or Dustin Johnson) to hold the trophy. These are the favorites in Vegas and in our minds.
That deviation, maybe more than anything, shows a recent shift in power when it comes to the way seasons start anyway. Whether it's a trend that lasts all year, we'll have to re-visit later on. But for now, the young guns are hungry, and they're coming for more.
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