As Monty, Vijay step off the majors stage, an era ends

The average NFL career is something like three years long, which you know very well if you've had the misfortune of drafting a running back past his fantasy expiration date. (Thanks again, LaDainian.) Baseball and basketball, the average career length stretches a few more years. But golf? Golf is a sport whose careers are measured in decades.

We could do some of that silly "back when" stuff, but this will suffice: when Vijay Singh turned pro, Rickie Fowler was still six years from even being born. And now, it looks like Singh, along with Colin Montgomerie, will see a longstanding majors streak come to an end.

Singh has decided to take the U.S. Open off, bringing to an end a remarkable streak in which he played in every single major in the past 17 years. It marked the longest active streak in golf, one perpetuated by last year's special exemption at the U.S. Open. But as the USGA announced that there would be no such exemption offered this year, and as Singh didn't get into the top 50 in the world, the streak is at an end.

Monty is in a similar position, though at least he's taking a shot at qualifying for the British Open. He'll have to finish in the top 5 at either the French or Scottish Opens, which is, shall we say, unlikely.

Depending on when you began watching golf, this news will come as either just a couple more old dudes shuffling off center stage or a wrenching reminder of the way time claims us all. Watching Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer slap at balls to open The Masters is an exercise in nostalgia shot through with heartache for their millions of fans.

We're lucky in golf, though. We get decades to watch our favorites. It'll be the 2040s before Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy start to really fall off the pace, and they could have another twenty years after that to play on whatever Galactic Champions Tour they have by then. But it'll be here before you know it.