It happens to everyone, in every profession. You start out as the young kid at your job. You have all the promise in the world and start to turn a few heads. Soon, you have the attention of your more-established co-workers, who are scared that you will some day take their spot.
Back in the mid-90’s there was an established crop of golfers on the PGA (Pro Golfers Association). Then, a rise of new, “fresher” talent came through the ranks.
Tiger Woods, for example, won his first Masters tournament in 1997. This Masters win was Tiger’s first and made a statement to the old golfers of the late 80’s and early 90’s that they were going to be put in the rear view mirror. If there was a Sunday where either Tiger was in the lead, or close to the lead, viewers knew that you would see Tiger Woods in his Red Nike polo shirt and his black dress pants. For the next decade, the PGA was Tiger’s playground. Dominating golf courses and intimidating other golfers wherever he played.
For Phil Mickelson, his rise to golf super-stardom started later than Tiger’s. Sure, Phil was always a good choice to win any tournament he entered in, but Phil had the stigma as the “guy who couldn’t win the big one.” All that changed for Phil, as the 2004 Masters Tournament was his coming out party. Just days after his father’s death, Phil stood above a put on the 18th-hole to win his first major tournament. Phil lined up the put and, with a stroke of his putter, sunk it into the hole to win the tournament. Since then, Phil has won two other Masters, including the 2010 tournament, and has brushed off any younger competition.
That is, until this past weekend. For both Tiger and Phil were out-played by a young golfer named Rory McIlroy (pictured left). Tiger, at the same tournament, missed the cut shooting a terrible-79 on Friday. Phil, however, was Rory’s biggest competition heading into Sunday. Phil, still playing great after his Masters win, was in the top three on Sunday’s final round. Rory, only twenty years old (he turned twenty-one on Tuesday of this week), entered Sunday’s Final Round in the hunt for a top five finish, not even thinking about winning the Quail Hollow PGA Tournament. So, what did young Rory do? He went out and shot an amazing 10-under-62 to win his first PGA tournament. The start of his day, shooting a-32 on the front-9 holes, was enough to write about. Then, on the back nine, Rory shot himself into super-stardom by shooting an unbelievable 30. His Final Round of a 62 won the Quail Hollow Tournament by four strokes over Phil.
Not to be out done by Rory’s amazing comeback win here in the States, Ryo Ishikawa, over on the Japan Tour, shot a 58. Yes, 58 in 18 holes on a par 70 course. This accomplishment is like watching a perfect game in baseball, or a bowler rolling a 300. This just doesn’t happen every day, or even during a golfing season. Ishikawa birdied nine of his first 11 holes, had three in a row on the back nine, and missed a 15-footer on the 18th for a chance at 57. “I always dreamed of getting a score like this, but didn’t think I would do it so fast,” Ishikawa said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will after a few days.”
To make this story even better, Ryo was trailing the leader of this event by six-strokes heading into the final round. Amazing as it is to shoot a 58, Ryo is only 18-years old. The thing about Ryo is that this win at the Japan Tour wasn’t his first. No, this was Ryo’s seventh of his young career. Ryo has played in some PGA Tour events here, but has yet to show the same dominance as he has in the Japan Tour. But, at only 18, it will only be a matter of time before we see him at the top of the leader-board on Sunday’s.
The young golfers of the next generation are on the rise and are ready to take over. It was not to long ago we were watching a young Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods show the promise as these two kids. For Rory and Ryo, the whole golf world is wide open for their young budding careers. How will it shape up? Can they continue their rise to the top of the PGA? For golf fans across the world, these two are just the tip of the iceberg that is the next generation.By TJ McAloon