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PGA Tour Confidential: Transitions Championship

Yani Tseng, MasterCard Classic
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Yani Tseng is one of the many players in line to be the next No. 1 on the LPGA Tour.
Shipnuck: She's 20 yards shorter than Creamer! Pressel will be a contender in majors but will always struggle to keep up in the birdie-a-thons.

Shipnuck: The Euro tour had a B-list event this week, the Madeira Island Open. What's notable is that it was won by 20-year-old Argentine Estanislao Goya, playing in only his sixth event on the circuit. Is golf becoming like tennis, where players peak in their late teens and early 20's?

Herre: Used to be that a pro golfer's prime was in his early to late 30s. That's definitely not the case anymore. You're a has-been if you haven't done some damage in your 20s.

Friedman: The difference is, in tennis, as the struggling Federer is proving, once you pass your mid-20s, it is almost impossible to get back to the top. The golfer's age window is much larger and allows for some dips and rises.

Van Sickle: To prove Friedman's point, 50-year-old Tom Lehman had a chance to win the Transitions until midway through the final round.

Herre: True enough about Lehman, Gary, but if you would've been asked last night to predict Lehman's score on Sunday, what would the number have been?

Van Sickle: The over-under on Lehman for Sunday probably would've been a couple over par. Realistically, it's three times tougher for the old war horses to pull out a win. They know it might be their last chance, and they know how much it means. Especially to Lehman, who was at the end of a medical extension, although I'm sure he'll get plenty of sponsors' exemptions if he wants them. It's also very tough for older guys to string three or four good rounds together, especially three or four good putting rounds. Of course, Vijay is the guy who wipes out all the rules.

Hack: Goosen says Vijay has changed the players' minds about what is possible after 40. All things being equal, my money is on a good fortysomething beating a good twentysomething most days. Sorta like what happened today. (And at Barclays last year when Singh beat Sergio.)

Shipnuck: I don't think Lehman has been working as hard as Vijay has. Or that Sergio or Charles Howell or anybody else will in the future.

Shipnuck: Lehman's an interesting case. Everyone thinks he had a great career, but it was basically three years, 1994-96, when he scored four of his five career wins. He's spent the last decade plus just hanging around. Maybe the Tour should cap the number of starts you can make in a career, to ensure new blood.

Friedman: That's age-ist! If you qualify, you qualify. Baseball didn't throw Jamie Moyer out when he had made a certain number of starts.

Shipnuck: If Jamie Moyer is your rebuttal than I think my idea is sound.

Friedman: Last I looked, he was still getting guys out ...

Van Sickle: It's age-ist based on history. Look at Jack and Arnie and Watson and Norman and Azinger and all the rest. The first thing that goes is the ability to play great for four straight days. Two or three days, yes. (Remember Nicklaus at Oakmont and Augusta and others?) But not four. Innisbrook has to be encouraging for Lehman, and he proved he can still hang with the young studs. Can he still beat them? We won't know that until he does.

Reiterman: It's amazing the amount of second chances guys get out there. I still don't get the major medical exemption. Seems in every other sport, you get hurt and someone grabs your spot, them's the breaks.

Van Sickle: Ryan's point is good. The PGA Tour is Entitlement Central. Nobody ever talks about that.

Gorant: How very un-Republican of them. First change should be Q-school. It's beyond me why the guys who washed out the year before get an automatic exemption to the second round?

Evans: After Charlie Sifford and other black pioneers brought down the Caucasians-only clause in the 1960s, the PGA Tour became the ultimate sports meritocracy. Major medicals and such are the tour's way of allowing union-type activity without actually having a real union. Entitlement is a good thing in a worker-friendly society.

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