Of the eight PGA Tour events that have been held so far in this ‘super season’, as it is being billed, three of the winners have been over 40 years of age. While golf is by no means always a young man’s game, to see three over-40s winning events in such a short space of time is intriguing, and perhaps paints a picture of the changing landscape of professional golf.
It started in the first event of the 2020-21 season, when Stewart Cink defied the odds to win the Safeway Open. 47-year-old Cink, who won The Open in 2009, played out of his skin to earn top spot at Silverado Country Club in Napa, California. Indeed, Cink hadn’t won a single tournament since his Open success in Scotland 11 years ago.
Cink’s incredible feat was followed up by a more recognised recent winner, Sergio García, who turned 40 this year, as the Spaniard won the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi in early October. García has 11 PGA Tour wins to his name, and famously won the Masters in 2017 – his only major title.
While García’s success was not wholly unpredictable, Brian Gay’s triumph at the recent Bermuda Championship undoubtedly was. Gay will turn 49 in December, but produced a stunning performance to win his fifth PGA tournament and his first for seven years.
It’s been a remarkable pattern of older winners of events, and while many professional golfers play well into their 40s, to see regular winners in that age group is quite unusual. It could be that the unusual circumstances around this season, given the coronavirus pandemic, has levelled the playing field somewhat, making experience and weather-worn nous the order of the day.
That will be the hope for those members of the 40s club as the Masters rolls around. The Augusta tournament is set to take place in the autumn this year for the first time, and the magnificent performances of golf’s older generation could mean that perhaps an older winner of the Masters could emerge.
Of course, you only need to look at last year’s edition of the tournament to see that this is possible, although it’s perhaps fair to say that Tiger Woods’ enduring class and winning mentality transcend his advanced age. But the course at Augusta National is one that requires experience – knowing and understanding the tricky corners and greens, and the variety of obstacles which must be navigated en route to recording a good score.
Players like Woods and, indeed, his great rival Phil Mickelson, are the kind you could imagine springing a surprise and winning the Masters. Neither of them are at the head of the list of tournament favourites on sites like Betdaq, but they are the kind of golfers who you know can turn it on at any given moment.
Woods will be playing with the motivation of defending his Masters crown from last year. At 44, he is clearly not as consistent as he once was, but the quality still lies deep within, threatening to burst forth at any time, and he’ll always be one to watch at Augusta.
Mickelson recently graduated from the 40s club by celebrating his 50th birthday, and while he also lacks consistency, he will have confidence from the fact that he is winning tournaments, notably the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship. Those wins are proof that he can still turn it on when he needs to, and you wouldn’t rule him out from a solid run at the Masters.
There is a sense that this year’s Masters is hugely difficult to predict due to the sheer strangeness of golf’s elite taking to Augusta in the autumn. It could well prove that those unique circumstances play into the hands of professional golf’s older generation, who have been around the block and done it all before.