x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Young golf phenoms should strike while the iron is hot

The implicit message is grab it with both hands while you can, kids, because everything comes with an expiration date, writes Steve Elling.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand hits a shot on the 17th during the final round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at the Lake Merced Golf Club on April 27, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Lydia Ko of New Zealand hits a shot on the 17th during the final round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at the Lake Merced Golf Club on April 27, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

This era is shaping up as the age of ages.

Seemingly every week, a fresh face makes a mark at a notable event, including Lydia Ko, who won on the LPGA Tour last week and vaulted to world No 2 at age 17.

A week earlier, Jordan Spieth finished second at the Masters at age 20, in his first appearance. Last week, Noh Seung-yul won on the PGA Tour at age 22, his fourth victory on a different global circuit.

Matteo Manassero, who amassed four European Tour victories by the time he was 20, can envision a male player as young as 14 winning. That doubtless will prompt a shudder from those who feel that teenagers are too young, developmentally, to handle the accompanying pressure.

It is easy to grasp that point.

While players such as Lexi Thompson – who three weeks ago, at age 19, won her fourth LPGA title – have become a tremendous storyline for a sport that badly needs new blood, there have been proximal pitfalls, too.

Take a look at Anthony Kim.

He scored multiple wins on the deeper PGA Tour by age 23 and was poised for stardom. A series of injuries and surgeries followed and he has not played in two years.

As for whether Kim, whose drive and dedication have been questioned, is preparing for a comeback, his agent this week flatly said, “no”, with no illumination.

The implicit message is grab it with both hands while you can, kids, because everything comes with an expiration date.

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