By Paul Myers
At some point, someone above the age of 25 will win on the PGA Tour. However, it doesn’t seem to be a given that it will happen anytime soon. The ‘Youth Movement’ has officially begun, and it has begun in a big way. There are two tournaments now in the books for the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season, and each has been claimed by a youthful champion.
Last week, Emiliano Grillo took home the Frys.com Open in California at just 23 years of age. Not to be outdone, Smylie Kaufman took home this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas at the ripe age of….23. While both of these players are older than Jordan Spieth – which is hard to imagine considering his incredible resume – they still certainly qualify as the next generation of PGA Tour players. Judging by the quality of golf that has been played by these youngsters in the early going, it is safe to say that the PGA Tour is in good hands moving forward.
Any PGA Tour win is a memorable one, and getting the first win of a career is even more special. However, the way Smylie Kaufman came from behind to win at TPC Summerlin will be long remembered by all who were lucky enough to witness his play. Through seven holes of the final round, Kaufman had made one birdie and six pars – nothing to complain about, but not exactly setting the course on fire either.
That would all change in a hurry. Kaufman managed to play the last eleven holes in an incredible nine-under par, meaning he would post a score of ten-under par 61 (on the par 71 layout). His run included seven birdies, along with an eagle on the par-4 15th. A clutch birdie on the 18th hole sealed the round, and you eventually be the difference in the tournament as he would win by one over a whopping six players (Patton Kizzire, Cameron Tringale, Jason Bohn, Alex Cejka, Kevin Na, and Brett Stegmaier).
Na Denied Again
While each of the six players who finished as runner-up will wish they could have saved just one more stroke somewhere along the way, Kevin Na is likely to be the most-frustrated of the group. His PGA Tour season has now consisted of a playoff loss in California, and a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. Na had a putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Kaufman, but it just slid past the hole. Obviously Na’s game is in great shape early in the season, but he certainly wishes that he could have cashed one of these great weeks in for a title.
Looking forward, the Tour’s next stop is the CIMB Classic this coming week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ryan Moore is the two-time defending champion of this event, which has a limited field of just 78 players. In addition to Moore, other notable entrants into the field include Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, and Padraig Harrington, among others.