Youth Reigns at The Nelson and The Sybase

by Jeff Skinner

Golf has been called an “old man’s game” by many of its detractors over the years. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case Sunday afternoon as a pair of young “twenty-somethings” won their first big league tournaments and a sixteen year old amateur showed that he could play with the big boys.

“Youth will be served” and it was served well at The Byron Nelson Championship and The Sybase Match Play Championship. Twenty two year old Jason Day battled through a midweek illness and a bunch of bogies on Sunday to finish with a two stroke victory and claim his first PGA Tour win.  Day made it a little too interesting at the end when he hit his approach into eighteen in the water.  Fortunately for Day his nearest competitor, Blake Adams, did the same.  Day’s bogey was enough for the win, a check for $1,170,000 and a two year exemption on the PGA Tour.

The story of the week at The Nelson was the play of U.S. Junior Amateur, Jordan Spieth.  The sixteen year old high school junior played well enough to be within three shots of the lead on his back nine, but a few missteps cost him his chance.  Spieth had some of the biggest galleries of the week and his go for broke style of play had won over many fans and press.  He impressed the tour players with his maturity as well as his golf game.

Asked afterwards about how he kept things in balance he said,” I just tried to learn from them, look at what they were doing. I tried to emulate them, and it was really cool to play about a couple of veterans, Tom yesterday and Corey today. It’s all business out there. They remain neutral, they know that they can’t get too excited or too down on themselves, and I did today, I got way too down on myself early, and then I got way too excited at some point in the round, too, and it messed me up a little bit.

But that’s how I went about the week. I tried to do exactly what they were doing and tried to be one of them for the week, and to be able to play with a couple of guys like I did on the weekend, it was cool.

Proving that he is mature beyond his years he said his parents had given him the best advice of the week. “Best advice was probably from my parents right there, and they just told me, “You need to enjoy it, no matter how you play. Everyone is out here to support you; you don’t have any expectations going in, you know, you’re just playing your game and taking it shot by shot. Just enjoy the experience,” and that’s what I did.

The best pure golf performance of the week has got to be that of twenty three year old Sun Young Soo at the LPGA’s Sybase Match Play Championship.  Her 3 & 1 defeat of Angela Stanford doesn’t even begin to tell the story.  Yoo started out as the 28th seed in the field of 64.  In the first round she beat 34th seed Karen Stupples.  In round two she dealt the American hopes a death blow when she knocked out the fifth seed Cristie Kerr.  Round three wasn’t much easier as she bested the 12th seed in Song-Hee Kim and later that day polished off the 4th seed Yani Tseng.  On Sunday she had the huge task of facing the world’s number one and top seed Jiyai Shin in the semifinals.  Yoo topped her 2 & 1 to land in the finals against Stanford (10).  So in her quest for the win Soo beat five of the top twelve players in the world.  That’s one for the record books.

After taking an early 1 up lead in the finals she found herself 1 down but was able to better Stanford by hitting more greens and staying out of the greenside rough which Stanford couldn’t seem to manage.  Her 3 & 1 win over Stanford gave her first LPGA win and got her a shower from fellow South Koreans Jiyai Shin and Amy Yang.

It was a great day for the youngsters on the course and we will probably be hearing more from many of the young guns that populate both tours this season.


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