Rickie Fowler picked up his first PGA victory in early May and was voted PGA Tour Player of the Month. With these accomplishments, he might have earned a ticket to the "Young Guns Club."
The "Young Guns Club" is the unofficial title for the flashy, talented, under-30 set coming up through the ranks of the pro tour. Fowler certainly fits the profile: just check out his outrageous style.
Fowler is joined by Rory McIlroy, a 23-year-old from Northern Ireland whose meteoric rise--and smashing U.S. Open victory--makes him the default club leader. There is also Dustin Johnson who, at 27-years-old just earned his fifth Tour victory last week. One could easily include Hunter Mahan, Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen in the club.
But anointing a rising star always comes with the risk that he'll flame out before his time. The press has become a little Young Gun-shy after the last group failed miserably in living up to heavy expectations.
Consider the class of 2000:
Adam Scott--0 majors victories, 8 tour wins in 185 tournaments, Charles Howell--0 major victories, 2 tour wins in 348 tournaments, and Jonathan Byrd--0 major victories, 5 tour wins in 278 tournaments.
Those upstarts, and a few others, were to be the main competition for Ernie Els, Phil Michelson, Fred Couples and Vijay Singh. But the Old Guys stayed dominant, continuing to win even as the so-called Young Guns disappointed.
(Tiger Woods, who is now considered one of the Old Guys, was always in a league of his own, the "You Can't Touch This Club," of which he was the sole member. He has 14 major victories, and won 73 of his 283 tournaments.)
The big question for me is--what happened to Fowler on Sunday while playing with Tiger? Was it really just a bad day or is there more to it? Youth is often considered fearless, a character trait that has many advantages in sports. But is this new crop of young people really without fear? Are there any Young Guns out there that can stand up to Tiger? Will one of them win this week’s U.S. Open?
There were many that stood up to Nicklaus. Albeit, often in vain, but they stood none-the-less! As for the new crop, we can only hope for as much.
Stephen Moskal is currently the Director of Instruction for Golf Swing Exchange, an innovative on-line coaching platform whose goal is to revolutionize the ability for people to learn golf. A former professional golfer in Europe, Moskal turned pro in 1993 as a member of the French National Circuit and also spent time on the United Kingdom Mastercard Tour and the European Challenge Tour. Following a seven-year professional career, Moskal turned to teaching full-time in 1999. A 1990 graduate of Furman University with a degree in philosophy, Moskal was a four year letter winner with the Paladins and was a member of the academic honor roll. Most recently, Stephen studied under Top 100 instructor Mitchell Spearman, best known for working with major champions Nick Faldo and Ian Baker Finch. Stephen is also the Head Golf Coach at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.
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