Ryan Moore won for the first time on Tour at the 2009 Wyndham Championship. The iconoclastic 27-year-old from the Pacific Northwest tries to defend his title this week at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
Not that we need to be reminded of the youth movement that's redefined men's professional golf. In the wake of 25-year-old Martin Kaymer's win at the PGA Championship, it's everywhere you look. I keep thinking about a scene from the 1985 movie "Fletch":
Doctor: You know, it's a shame about Ed.
Fletch/Chevy Chase: Oh, it was. Yeah, it was really a shame. To go so suddenly like that.
Doctor: He was dying for years.
Fletch: Sure, but ... the end was very ... very sudden.
Doctor: He was in intensive care for eight weeks.
Fletch: Yeah, but I mean the very end, when he actually died, that was extremely sudden.
It's like that with tipping points. You can plainly see it developing, but when it finally happens the shift still feels abrupt. Golf's power dynamic has shifted from a fiefdom to a decentralized uprising of ambition that can't be quelled.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will probably win more majors, as might Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington, but it's not their game anymore.
What happened? Was it Tiger's A-game and even B-game going AWOL to create a superstar void for all comers to try to fill? Was it Louis Oosthuizen, 27, winning the British Open, or Kaymer coolly conquering the wacky PGA?
Was it both? It didn't hurt that the supporting actors in these dramas were Rory McIlroy, 21, Dustin Johnson, 26, and to a lesser extent Jason Day, 22.
These are special talents who were kids when Woods won the 1997 Masters at age 21. Thanks to the force of nature that was Tiger and the reach of outlets like ESPN, never had teens and children had such vivid examples of golfing possibility piped so tantalizingly into their homes.
Still, Woods only primed the pump. There were few if any comparable talents on the cusp in '97. It took the summer of Oosthuizen and Kaymer to open the floodgates. Johnson will win a major soon, and that will only further demystify the whole thing for Hunter Mahan.
Or maybe it'll be vice-versa, or perhaps the next to break through will be Michael Sim or Charl Schwartzel.
Earlier this season, before the majors, Johnson won at Pebble, Kim won at Houston, McIlroy shot his epic 62 at Quail Hollow, and Mahan tamed the TPC at rowdy Phoenix.
But part of us believed that when it really mattered, Woods would send the kids to their rooms, as he did to Sergio Garcia at the '99 PGA. Woods was at his lowest point, but had done so much to dispel any doubts on the course.
That's all history now. Maybe the shift began last year, when Y.E. Yang overtook him at the PGA. Golf has changed so appreciably it's become a race between youth trying to make history and the rest of us trying to make a positive ID.
Quick: Who is Derek Lamely? And for extra credit, describe 19-year-old Korean S.Y. Noh's game.
At the Wyndham this week, the players to keep an eye on are the developing 20-somethings with designs on playing the upcoming FedEx Cup.
Only the top 125 get to play in the Barclays next week, and talented 20-somethings like Graham DeLaet (No. 119) and Troy Merritt (137) are on the bubble. Sim (102) is a lock for the Barclays, but not so much for the Deutsche Bank.
Given the way this year has gone, they all may play well and keep marching toward Atlanta, leaving veterans like Todd Hamilton (210), Henrik Stenson (133) and Mike Weir (126) marveling at how quickly the kids seized control.
• Mike Reid defends his title at the Champions Tour's fourth major, the Jeld-Wen Tradition at Crosswater Club in Sunriver, Ore.
Bernhard Langer will be playing for his third major championship victory of the year, which might be enough to entice European Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie to add him to the team.
• Miguel Angel Jimenez also will be playing to get noticed by Montgomerie at the European tour's Czech Open at Prosper Golf Resort. At least Jimenez knows the breaks. He designed the golf course.
With two wins already this year, Jimenez is eighth in the European Ryder standings. The top nine qualify after next week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
• Christie Kerr is No. 1 again, and the LPGA tees off at the Safeway Classic at Oregon's Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Ghost Creek Course.