I’m currently reading John Feinstein’s Moment of Glory: The Year Underdogs Ruled Golf, and came across an interesting fact: Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson both won their last majors at age 34. The implication was that players are largely out of the running in Majors after that age.
Tiger is 35. I wonder … but …
Jack Nicklaus, of course, was famously 46 when he won the 1986 Masters. That’s eclipsed in the modern age only by Julius Boros’ 1968 PGA Championship win at 48 years old. Jerry Barber won the 1961 PGA Championship at age 45, the same age Hale Irwin was when he won the 1990 US Open. Roberto de Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open at 44, while Ray Floyd won the 1986 US Open at 43.
And over the past 15 years, there has been no shortage of older Major winners. A non-comprehensive list (rounding off the months):
At the Masters: Phil has won at age 34, 36 and 40. Cabrera turned 40 in 2009. Vijay was 37 in his 2000 Masters win. Faldo was 39 in 1996. O’Meara was 41 in 1998. Crenshaw was 43 in 1995.
At the US Open: Cabrera was 38 in 2007. Retief Goosen was 35 in 2004. Payne Stewart was 42 in 1999. Corey Pavin was 36 in 1995.
At the British Open: Tom Lehman was 37 in 1996. O’Meara was 41 in 1998. Harrington was 37 in 2008; 36 in 2007. Todd Hamilton was 39 in 2004. Stewart Cink was 35 last year.
At the PGA Championship: Harrington at 37 in 2008; Mark Brooks at 35 in 1996; Vijay was 41 in 2004. Phil was 35 in 2005.
And in what I would term the pre modern age, among others, Old Tom Morris won the 1867 British Open at 46; Harry Vardon, the 1914 British Open at 44, and Ted Ray the 1920 British Open at 43.
So Tiger isn’t out of it yet. But it’s sure to get more difficult for him. Eclipsing Jack’s record is not going to be as easy as once was thought.