On the PGA Tour, the Time of Change is Now

On the PGA Tour, the stars of the closing decade are winding down, and a new set of stars is emerging and sorting themselves out.

Seven years ago we had the Big Five. They were Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, and Retief Goosen. All of them had won multiple majors or were on their way.

But the last three haven’t won a major since 2004. Mickelson was a late bloomer and started winning them later than he should have. Yes, he won at Augusta this year, and was close at the U. S. Open, but we wonder how much gas he has left.

Tiger? He has gone 10 majors without winning one, though he had two other droughts of the same size while winning his 14. His declining performance this year also makes us wonder how much gas he has left.

There is a new set of 20-somethings who are to good to be denied. Dustin Johnson will learn how to win a major. His problem yesterday at the PGA was not in failing to read the rules sheet. It as having a swing that sent the ball that far right on the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead — the same swing that betrayed him at Pebble Beach two months earlier. He can correct that.

Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer are not flukes. Each established a serious resume prior to their major tournament victory. Louis Oosthuizen won his major before doing that, though he has marvelous potential according to two stars familiar with his game — Ernie Els and Gary Player.

Look at the Sunday leader board in yesterday’s final round. Jason Day. Nick Watney. Rory McIlroy. Bubba Watson. These are not tomorrow’s stars. They are today’s stars.

Start paying attention to this new wave of golfers now. They’re here to stay, and they will not be derailed by the old wave. The PGA Tour isn’t changing. It has already changed.

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