Watching 21-year-old golfer Jordan Spieth re-write the record books at Augusta National, you couldn’t help feel a sense of déjà vu. Has it really been 18 years since a 21-year-old Tiger Woods totally dominated the 1997 Masters for his first Major title?
Of course, we now know that what Woods did in April 1997 was not a fluke. He went on to win four green jackets among his 14 major championships.
What will be interesting for us to look back on in 18 years is whether the performance by Spieth triggered a period of dominance similar to that of Woods or if the 2015 Masters will become best remembered for being one of 10 second place finishes by Phil Mickelson in a Major tournament.
Given that Spieth already has three PGA Tournament wins, has finished 21st or better in the U.S. Open twice and in two trips to the Masters has a second place tie and now a tournament championship, it seems likely that this is just the beginning of a long and successful career for Spieth.
If that is indeed the case, the future for professional golf is looking mighty bright.
It was just a couple years ago that many were asking what would happen to the PGA after Tiger and Phil.
Now, with Spieth joining an impressive group of “young guns” who have either won or contended for majors before their 30th birthday, the sport seems poised for a long period where multiple stars take turns battling for victories.
Of course, leading the pack is Rory McIlroy, who at the age of 25 has already won four major titles and with a 12-under par score at the 2015 Masters might have reached the career grand slam had it not been for Spieth’s magical performance.
Other young stars who will compete with McIlroy and Spieth for years to come include Martin Kaymer (two majors before age 30), Webb Simpson (won 2012 U.S. Open at age 27), Keegan Bradley (won the 2011 PGA Championship at age 25), Dustin Johnson (eight top 10 finishes in majors at age 30) and 25-year-old Rickie Fowler (finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014).
In addition to these 30-and-under stars, the sport also includes several major champions who are in their early 30s including Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Lucas Glover, Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen.
Who Will Be The Greatest of Golf's Young Guns?
- Rory McIlroy (46%, 6 Votes)
- Jordan Spieth (31%, 4 Votes)
- Martin Kaymer (23%, 3 Votes)
- Keegan Bradley (0%, 0 Votes)
- Rickie Fowler (0%, 0 Votes)
- Dustin Johnson (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 13
Making the sport even more interesting right now is that Mickelson (44 years-old with five career majors) and Ernie Els (45 with four career majors) are still capable of contending for majors and after struggling for the last several years with injuries and off-the-course issues the 39-year-old Woods looks like he may be ready to make a new run at greatness.
Perhaps not since the mid-1980s when Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Fuzzy Zoeller, Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo were all vying for championships has there been such a convergence of eras at one time in PGA history.
Regardless of which players emerge as the greatest of their generation, you can already tell that the competition will be fierce and the stories legendary. So now we get to sit back and see if anyone can top Spieth.