Sunday was a most exceptional day in golf, and writers everywhere are cranking out their version of the "changing of the guard"/"new kids on the block" article. Thing is, every once in awhile -- the American Revolution, Elvis Presley mania, hatred of the New York Yankees -- the herd mentality is actually the right one. Sunday did mark a new era in golf, and how about this -- we were all here to see it!
So let's break it down. Of the three major achievements Sunday -- Ryo Ishikawa's 58, Rory McIlroy's first PGA Tour win, Lorena Ochoa's retirement -- I've got to say that Ishikawa's feat is by far the most impressive. One of the reasons it's so tough to get below 60 is that there's so much time to think about what you're doing. Those walks between shots fill up awfully fast with thoughts, and it takes someone very determined or borderline idiotic not to let those thoughts drift in the wrong directions. Bizarre head covers aside, I don't think Ishikawa is idiotic.
McIlroy's achievement is more like a first step than a destination. We've spent so much time building up anybody who shows any sort of promise that it's something of a surprise when one of them actually breaks through. But so far, McIlroy is doing everything correctly. Let's not project any further out, but McIlroy is setting up to be the kind of player who'll be around for awhile.
Ochoa, on the other hand, won't be around for very long, apparently. But Ai Miyazato, who won Ochoa's final tournament, is establishing an astonishing record -- five tournaments, three wins. If Ochoa has to go, she's leaving the game with some people who know what they're doing.
Golf right now is like the NBA in the mid-90s -- the big dogs are still around, but there are newcomers -- the equivalent of Kobe, KG and Iverson -- who will define how the game is played for the next decade. We've been wondering who would replace Tiger and Phil, and maybe, just maybe, they're here.