The changing of the guard continues to happen ever so slowly on the PGA Tour.
With Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) and Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) failing to make the cut in the U.S. Open last week and stalwarts such as Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x) and Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) not factoring in the final outcome, it has become apparent that there is a new, younger generation making an impact, certainly in the majors.
The emphatic victory by Bryson DeChambeau (Bridgestone Tour B X) in the U.S. Open, combined with the win by Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5) in the PGA Championship, collectively means the majors played this year have been won by players in their early to mid-20s. Add in Matthew Wolff (TaylorMade TP5), who finished second in the U.S. Open and tied for fourth in the PGA Championship, and that’s a solid sampling. Moreover, there’s a smattering of other mid twenty-somethings in Jon Rahm (TaylorMade TP5), Xander Schauffele (Callaway Chrome Soft X), Scottie Scheffler (Bridgestone Tour B X) and Cameron Champ (Srixon Z-Star XV) that further illustrate the emergence of the 20-somethings.
This is not to take away from the excellent play this year by the 36-year-old Johnson, but these new, younger guns are bombing it off the tee and taking away some of the advantages that their more-seasoned opponents enjoyed. The game has evolved to how far you can drive the ball to set up approach shots. Yes, it still comes down to putting, but when the drive sets up a relatively short shot to the pin, it completely changes the game.
It’ll be interesting to see if the golf world embraces all the things DeChambeau is professing: extreme weight training, burning 6,000 calories a day (or something maddening like that), protein shakes, irons with the same length, a stiff putting style, calculating distances and a willingness to use a driver when a three-wood is the safer choice.
Look, he’s not the only anomaly with what he does. Wolff’s swing probably makes golf instructors cringe. It looks like what Jim Furyk (Callaway Chrome Soft) does, but even wilder.
What works for one golfer won’t necessarily work for another, but historically in the last 20 years driving distance has become even more paramount. It was certainly the case with Tiger and with Phil. Changes in technology and improved programs at the collegiate level are giving today’s young golfers much more power off of the tee.
THE BOGEYMAN STRIKES: I don’t know how else to describe what happened to Patrick Reed (Titleist Pro V1), my top pick to win the U.S. Open, other than to say he led at the halfway point and then buckled in the third round and never recovered. Webb Simpson (Titleist Pro V1) and Schauffele were my other picks. It was unfortunate that Reed’s impressive short game came undone on the back nine on Saturday with too many bogeys, finishing the tournament tied for 13th overall.
The Xand Man was still in contention on Sunday, but simply needed to make up too much ground and finished fifth overall, which was solid nonetheless. I keep waiting for him to take his game to the next level. Simpson finished tied for eighth.