Anthony Kim, Adam Scott, Brant Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Segio Garcia, Camillo Villegas and Nick Whatney. Recognised by many as the young guns on the PGA Tour, in 2008 they combined for 38 top tens, 7 victories and over $20 million in prize money. This year so far in 69 chances – 10 top tens and 1 victory. Even more startling is the fact that Kim, Scott and Garcia, once ranked 12th, 4th and 2nd in the world respectively, have only managed 2 top tens in 2009. By comparison, Tiger Woods has 5 top tens and a victory in only 6 events. So why are we all wondering what is wrong with Tiger?
It’s not totally fair to pile on the young guns, after all – Kim, Snedeker and Scott have been trying to recover from injuries. Scott injured his knee while surfing in December. I know what you are thinking – December is a summer month down under brainiac. Brandt Snedeker has been dealing with a cracked rib he suffered at the Masters, and Kim had a sore shoulder and a bangd up foot from a surfing accident. What’s with the surfing injuries people? Sergio has had slow starts before, but perhaps his personal life turmoil has also contributed to this year’s slow start. He broke up with Morgan Leigh Norman recently. Speaking of breakups, Adam Scott also went through a breakup with his long time girlfriend.
I for one can vouch for the fact that it’s difficult to play good golf when your personal life is in a shambles. In many ways golf is a reflection of life. Happy in life, happy in golf, and vice versa. Another possible explination to the slow start of the young guns – greatly increased expectations. When Scott won the players, we all thought he was ready to now challenge Tiger on Sundays at majors. When AK won twice in his sophomore season, we thought the same. And we all expected more wins when Snedeker won twice and finished 2nd at the Masters. Hunter Mahan has experienced the pressure of playing for your country in a Ryder Cup, and performed admirably, but since then he hasn’t made much of an impact.
Fans and media are always so hard on our sports heros. Playing on the PGA Tour is hard! Golf is fun to play for sure, but when you have to play 24 days a month on tournament tough courses in front of thousands of fans for hundreds of thousans of dollars, I’m sure it can wear on you. For the top players there are constant demands for your time in the form of Pro-Ams, interviews, charity fundrasiers and sponsor events. Most of the players live out of a suitcase and have to eat catered and restaurant food all the time. The more fortunate players may have a custom motor coach with all the comforts of home, but still – its not home. Some players are forced to go weeks away from their families because they can’t afford to bring them along. Although the thought of playing professional golf is a dream of many people, it’s not an easy life. It’s very difficult to play well week in and week out. Sure, I’m making excuses. Playing golf for millions and traveling all over the world on private jets is nowhere near as hard as being a coal miner or police officer. That said, we should cut the young guns some slack and remember that they are only human. The season is long and there is plenty of time for them to get back in the game. Either way, it will be fun to see what happens!