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The Changing of the Guard

The PGA Tour witnessed a generational shift of new stars last season, and in 2012, expect them to shine even brighter
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
100 Years of Fuente—Celebrating a Family Dynasty, January/February 2012

(continued from page 3)

“Pretty amazing,” he says. Yeah.

David Toms, the 44-year-old veteran who rejuvenated his game this season, sees Simpson as an example of how the current crop of young players approaches the game.

“The game has changed a little bit,” says Toms. “Power is a big part of our game now, so most of these young guys you see that are successful can hit the ball a long way. But at the same time their short games are right there on par with the best in the game, so quite a lethal combination with power and touch. A lot of that, we didn’t have when I first got on tour.

“I’d also say that they come out and are very confident, very seasoned, whether it was college golf or Nationwide Tour golf or just junior golf that they played at a high level. It seems that they are confident players that have been around the block, so to speak, and they are ready to play great. There seems to be a lot more young players that are playing great than say 10 or 15 years ago They aren’t scared to play great golf. They’re able to handle the media. To me, they are just ready.”

Keegan Bradley has been carrying his famous aunt’s name his whole life, though was never quite certain he would be able to match her accomplishments. But with constant support from Pat Bradley, a battleground mentality gained on the Nationwide Tour, and mentoring from Phil Mickelson, a member of the generation that he is now overtaking, Bradley won the PGA Championship in an impressive play-off with Jason Duffer. He then won the Byron Nelson Championship in a play-off against Ryan Palmer.

A breathless Bradley said just after his PGA win: “It seems like a dream and I’m afraid I’m going to wake up here in the next five minutes and it’s not going to be real.”

It was real, very real. And his aunt thinks she knows why.

“Keegs really gets joy out of his success,” says Pat Bradley. “In that way, he is much different from me. I got mine from fear of failure.”

There is no fear of failure in Rory McIlroy. He led the British Open at St Andrews in 2010 after the first round, then got caught up in bad weather conditions the second day and shot 80. Still, he made the cut and played well on the weekend. Then, leading the Masters by four shots last April, he shot 80 in the final round. He hit such a pulled hook off the 10th tee that his next shot was played from the lawn that separates a pair of member cabins. It was a disappointing loss, but in the end not disheartening. A little more than two months later, he stomped all over the field at the U.S. Open at Congressional, winning with a total of 16 under par, the lowest score in Open history. He won by eight shots over Jason Day.

“I don’t know if it shows I have a very short memory,” said McIlroy after he had taken the first round lead at the Open. “I took the experience at Augusta and learned from it. You can’t be thinking about what happened before.”

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