Day, Spieth usher in uber youth movement

Brian Murphy

I don't want to say golf's youth movement is out of control, but the latest report is that Dave Stockton is now working with Justin Bieber on his putting.

You wouldn't be surprised if it were true. After all, Jason Day is 22 years old and a phenom, and his maiden PGA Tour win at the Byron Nelson in the Rory McIlroy-Ryo Ishikawa Era could have been greeted with a, "Yo, old guy, what took you so long?"

Jordan Spieth is the latest name to make Tiger Woods feel like a dirty old man. He's 16 and a Dallas-area high school junior, and the U.S. Junior Amateur champion. All he did for an encore was make the cut at the Nelson (sixth youngest in Tour history to do so), shoot a 67 on Saturday to stir Texas into a hometown frenzy and then finish in a tie for 16th after a Sunday 72.

He's 16! He could have asked Day in the post-Nelson locker room, "Dude, is it true that when you grew up, you guys used land lines to make phone calls?"

McIlroy is 21, Ryo is 18 and Day just 22. I'd say the Tour should put together an ad campaign to the tune of The Who's "My Generation," except the young guns would probably screen it and say, "The Who? Are they in, like, 'Guitar Hero?' "

Either way, welcome to the party, Jason Day.

If you don't know who Jason Day is, you probably should. He won a Nationwide Tour event in 2007 at age 19, which we should look back on now as a warning shot for the Millennial Generation.

The Aussie got his Tour card for 2008 and didn't stop there. He told the Melbourne Sun his goal was to take Tiger down, to be No. 1.

As usual, such boasting was greeted with harrumphs, laughter and the requisite "Tiger Has Now Made Sure That If He's Ever Paired With You, He Will Not Only Make You Feel Insignificant and Invisible, He Will Obliterate You, And Make You Never Want to Make a Golf Swing Again" talk.

Maybe time is on Day's side. The same week he wins the Nelson, the only Tiger news all week was a Chicago Sun Times report that Elin wants $750 million and the kids. Sucks to be in your 30s.

Full credit to Day for honesty. He admitted that his 2008 and 2009 seasons were winless because he didn't work hard, and he admitted he didn't work hard for all the reasons a lot of us wouldn't work hard: He had it made.

He cited his humble family background for making him dazzled by the easy money he made turning pro. Landing a huge endorsement contract at age 20 and "everybody telling you you're the best" made it easy to "slack off," he said, and while you might want to rip him for squandering his talent – something Tiger never, ever, came close to doing when he burst onto the scene – you also have to appreciate a 22-year-old who admits weakness and error.

There are scores of 22-year-olds who will not only fail to admit weakness and error, but they're also sleeping till noon and playing video games.

At the Nelson, Day would leave those days behind. Sort of.

A 66-65-67 first 54 holes for Day surely announced his firm intent to eschew his slacker past for a W, but four bogeys in his first eight holes on Sunday gave evidence to what he later admitted was truth: He was nervous as hell out there.

As such, Day needs to work on his style points. When he hit his second shot on the 72nd hole into the water, nearly blowing the whole darn thing to smithereens, he went into a Pudge Rodriguez crouch and hid his face, the epitome of a guy imploding on national TV.

The analysts quickly noted that Day needn't show his foes such weakness, but inside Day's head, he was probably saying to the analysts: "Easy for you to say, blazer boys. I just hit into the water on 18 three out of four days. I'm dying here, man!" He was given the golf equivalent of a call from the governor when his competition for the big check – a Matthew McConaughey look-a-like named Blake Adams – followed Day's water ball with one of his own. Suddenly, 18 at the Nelson looked like a dunk tank. Day would only admit he felt "relief" when he saw Adams get wet. It was a brutal bit of honesty, admitting golf schadenfreude as Adams would make double bogey, allowing Day the win.

But could you blame Day? He needed a break, and he'll take 'em any way he can get 'em – because it's tough to keep up with the kids these days.


Sun Young Yoo d. Angela Stanford, 3 and 1, championship match, LPGA Sybase Match Play Championship, Hamilton Farm G.C.

The topic of what is best for women's golf has been raised of late, and unfortunately for Sun Young Yoo, I have an idea: Sun Young Yoo winning the Sybase Match Play is not best for women's golf.

This is not meant to denigrate a 23-year-old South Korean who earned her first LPGA win, and did so in rather impressive fashion, dispatching, among others, Yani Tseng and 1-seed Jiyai Shin before beating Stanford, the third-highest ranked American woman player in the world.

Problem is, in the post-Annika, post-Lorena LPGA, the women's game needs a dominant force to create news and buzz. Obviously, Michelle Wie would be the ideal figure to be the buzz-mistress extraordinaire, but an exit in the quarterfinals isn't going to get it done for the Big Wiesy.

That leaves the Big Three – Shin, Ai Miyazato and Tseng – and nowhere on that list is Sun Young Yoo.

That 25 of the last 26 LPGA winners are non-Americans is one thing, and for us American golf fans who mistily recall Nancy Lopez, those days may be long gone. But we can embrace a non-American champion – like Annika, like Lorena – as long as she creates some greatness.

I won't overreact to one win by Sun Young Yoo as a buzzkill for the LPGA. I will, however, say that it would be nice if next month's LPGA Championship features a haymaker of a duel between the titans of the game.

That said, party on Sun Young!


"You can't win every time, but I'm extremely happy with my week." – A crazily precocious Jordan Spieth, on CBS, after his tie-16th at the Byron Nelson.

Jim Nantz reported that Spieth watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on Saturday night to calm his nerves.

I am not buying it. With the most level of heads for any player, let alone a teenager, in his post-round interview, this kid Spieth gave off the vibe that he maybe watched a PBS Documentary on the financial crisis, or maybe caught up with the latest literary trends on "Charlie Rose."

Who is this guy? There appeared nothing flukey about Spieth's run to the spotlight. His golf swing was dynamite, all lithe and limber like a teenager should be; his ability to handle pressure in his hometown was inspiring; and his attitude was more mature than, say, a player who tosses clubs and cusswords liberally.

(Not that I'm thinking of anyone in particular.)

I think players like Spieth are the product of the Tiger Era. They've seen the world No. 1 do crazy amazing things at a young age and figure: Why not me?

The pressure will be on Spieth to turn pro young, like Ryo Ishikawa, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and even Danny Lee, who won the U.S. Amateur at an age younger than Tiger, but is still searching for a signature moment as a pro. Spieth says he wants to go to the University of Texas, and he says he's sticking to it.

Matt Kuchar made a similar decision to go to Georgia Tech instead of turning pro, and he stayed all four years. While he hasn't won a major, Kuchar says his life is fulfilled and he's glad he stayed in college. Spieth doesn't need to stay all four years at Texas, but living the college life can be satisfying in a number of ways, especially as one grows older and reflects, as I was just saying to my friend LeBron James.

And we don't have to wait long for an encore. Spieth accepted a sponsor's exemption to next month's St. Jude Classic in Tennessee.

Good for Spieth. For a Nelson field that was lacking star power, he made the headlines worthwhile. He probably also makes his bed, eats his vegetables and does his homework.

I'm telling you, they must make kids differently these days.


Remember the old "Alcoa Fantastic Finish" ads from the NFL games of the 1970s and 80s?

We need one on the PGA Tour. Last week, we had Adam Scott doffing a short putt to make things unattractive at the end with a bogey.

This week, we had Day – and his competition, Adams – splashing balls into the 18th-hole water hazard at TPC Las Colinas like caddies cannonballing into the pool at Bushwood Country Club's "Caddie Day" at the pool. (1 p.m.-1:15 p.m.)

It's getting hard to watch. As noted looper Casey Stengel once said: Can't anybody here play this game?

Day won the hole with a bogey; Adams lost his chances with a double bogey.

Let's do this again. Let's go back to the 18th tee, tell one of these guys to go and make birdie and … give those men a mulligan!


Considering the temperatures at the Nelson were in the 90s, and humid, and windy, I'd think the players want to get the hell out of Texas. No such luck. We head to the second leg of the "Metroplex Double Dip," and play the legendary Colonial Country Club, site of Hogan's heroics, Annika's foray into the PGA Tour and a drunk fan cannonballing into the drink in 2008 when Phil Mickelson made his winning putt.

(Who knew I could get two cannonballing references into one column?)

The field is good, my friends. Lefty is making his first start since The Players, defending champ Steve Stricker will try to hang on to his plaid coat, and Day will try to make it 2-for-2.

My money's on any entrant who is too young to remember Betamax.