Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email Niamh on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
New AMA with a US police officer (he's back!). You can ask your questions here

50 Year Olds Winning Majors

  • 24-05-2021 11:48am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,134 ✭✭✭ blue note


    Phil winning yesterday puts a bit of a spotlight on this for me. For all we hear now of golf being brought to new levels physicality and people pointing at Dustin and Brooks and Rory and JT as what the modern golfer looks like, I can't help but wonder if there's an element of people wanting golf to be seen as a normal sport where the athletes are top physical specimens like soccer or swimming, but in reality the weighting towards the physical side of it is very low. You can get that extra couple of a percent out of being in incredible physical condition, but when you look at the age of guys who can compete at the very top you have to admit that being in top physical condition isn't a prerequisite to winning.

    What other sports are in this bracket? Snooker and darts are the ones that spring to mind. I'm actually struggling to think of others.

    And Phil actually winning the PGA at 50 is what really got me thinking, but Harrington was 4th. Stuart Cink has won twice this year, Langer was right up there in the masters a couple of years ago, Couples a couple of years before that. Greg Norman lead going into the final round in 2008 and Tom Watson nearly won the Open at 59 a couple of years before that!

    There aren't many sports where I can think of someone competing at the top of the game into their 40s. In golf we have the odd guy winning after 50!


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,998 ✭✭✭ finglashoop


    blue note wrote: »
    Phil winning yesterday puts a bit of a spotlight on this for me. For all we hear now of golf being brought to new levels physicality and people pointing at Dustin and Brooks and Rory and JT as what the modern golfer looks like, I can't help but wonder if there's an element of people wanting golf to be seen as a normal sport where the athletes are top physical specimens like soccer or swimming, but in reality the weighting towards the physical side of it is very low. You can get that extra couple of a percent out of being in incredible physical condition, but when you look at the age of guys who can compete at the very top you have to admit that being in top physical condition isn't a prerequisite to winning.

    What other sports are in this bracket? Snooker and darts are the ones that spring to mind. I'm actually struggling to think of others.

    And Phil actually winning the PGA at 50 is what really got me thinking, but Harrington was 4th. Stuart Cink has won twice this year, Langer was right up there in the masters a couple of years ago, Couples a couple of years before that. Greg Norman lead going into the final round in 2008 and Tom Watson nearly won the Open at 59 a couple of years before that!

    There aren't many sports where I can think of someone competing at the top of the game into their 40s. In golf we have the odd guy winning after 50!

    Accuracy beats power most of the time.

    when the younger players get both together they have a power advantage.

    dechambeau could play for 50years with his robotic swing and power but he will never have the feel around the green the way mickelson does.

    that flop chip in from mickelson is talent. no amount of weights can teach a player feel


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,699 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    Soccer players and swimmers being in top physical condition for their chosen sports probably isn't too applicable to golf. Golf is very far removed from a team sport that involves running up and down a pitch kicking a ball and getting tackled and kicked .

    How about throwers, weightlifters and powerlifters. many are fat and powerlifter in particular can keep improving well into their 40s yet would gas within seconds on a soccer pitch.

    American football - quarterbacks (not just Tom Brady) can have long careers as can punters.

    It's hard to compare golf with other sports as there is no right way to swing a club and so many variables and different skills involved,. Given swing differences, some golfers need to be in better physical shape than others.

    Also, it's not possible to judge a person's fitness for golf just by looking at them. Is Bernhard Langer a gymrat in his 60s - I don't know, he might be.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,402 ✭✭✭ G1032


    Refreshing to see that the ability to win at elite sport isn't necessarily and doesn't have to be the preserve of the young

    Maturity and experience played such a mammoth role yesterday. I don't think a 30 year old Mickelson would have won that Championship. All the physical strength and long hitting can't buy you that maturity


  • Registered Users Posts: 924 ✭✭✭ OEP


    Phil is by no means short though


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,316 ✭✭✭✭ Dav010


    Phil’s win is an outlier. He said himself in an interview afterwards that he never thought he would win, and it’s quite probable he will never win again on the PGA Tour. So using it to illustrate what can be done would be similar to Tom Watson nearly winning the Open, it wasn’t an indicator that 60 yr olds (not sure how old he was) were suddenly going to start winning majors. Also, Phil has a unique short game that seems to have endured as he has gotten older, unless the young golfers have that, as power fades, so does the best part of their game.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 924 ✭✭✭ OEP


    Dav010 wrote: »
    Phil’s win is an outlier. He said himself in an interview afterwards that he never thought he would win, and it’s quite probable he will never win again on the PGA Tour. So using it to illustrate what can be done would be similar to Tom Watson nearly winning the Open, it wasn’t an indicator that 60 yr olds (not sure how old he was) were suddenly going to start winning majors. Also, Phil has a unique short game that seems to have endured as he has gotten older, unless the young golfers have that, as power fades, so does the best part of their game.

    Phil is also the second best player of the last 30 years, so it's not some average 50 year old we're talking about.


  • Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Whiplash85


    Accuracy beats power most of the time.

    when the younger players get both together they have a power advantage.

    dechambeau could play for 50years with his robotic swing and power but he will never have the feel around the green the way mickelson does.

    that flop chip in from mickelson is talent. no amount of weights can teach a player feel

    Yeah feel is everything and something you cant really teach. It begins when you are a kid practicing that very same flop shot in your back garden. I think with a lot of modern golfers they are very good at fundamentals of the game. Tee to green etc but the college coaching means that they are all very similar. Mickelson is a throwback to Ballesteros in terms of raw natural talent. I would argue his chip on 18th in the third round was the shot of the championship. While many players would have been able to get the bunker shot close and some may have even holed it also, I'm pretty sure Mickelson is only golfer in the world right now that could have executed that shot on 18 on Saturday.

    From someone who has watched him closely in the past year I think he focused too much on long game and driving to detriment of his bread and butter like wedges and around the green. He seems to have married the 2 now again and only a fool would bet against him getting another win on tour or even getting to 7.


  • Registered Users Posts: 33,449 ✭✭✭✭ The_Kew_Tour


    Phil is in better shape now then anytime in his late 20s, 30s or early 40s.

    The reason he won was a factor of sheer skill but also fact he works hard on his diet and its helped him big style.

    Lowry would have another major or 2 only for his fitness.

    Golf is about a lot of good ball striking and hard work, but likes of Westwood and Phil are playing better now because they are fitter now too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 439 ✭✭ mjsc1970


    Whiplash85 wrote: »
    Yeah feel is everything and something you cant really teach. It begins when you are a kid practicing that very same flop shot in your back garden. I think with a lot of modern golfers they are very good at fundamentals of the game. Tee to green etc but the college coaching means that they are all very similar. Mickelson is a throwback to Ballesteros in terms of raw natural talent. I would argue his chip on 18th in the third round was the shot of the championship. While many players would have been able to get the bunker shot close and some may have even holed it also, I'm pretty sure Mickelson is only golfer in the world right now that could have executed that shot on 18 on Saturday.

    From someone who has watched him closely in the past year I think he focused too much on long game and driving to detriment of his bread and butter like wedges and around the green. He seems to have married the 2 now again and only a fool would bet against him getting another win on tour or even getting to 7.

    Agree with you 100% about that pitch on 18 on Saturday. I doubt there's anyone else around that could have pulled that off.

    I'd watch Phil's short game all day rather than wowing over the big hitters.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 30 Chavez.


    Phil is in better shape now then anytime in his late 20s, 30s or early 40s.

    The reason he won was a factor of sheer skill but also fact he works hard on his diet and its helped him big style.

    Lowry would have another major or 2 only for his fitness.

    Golf is about a lot of good ball striking and hard work, but likes of Westwood and Phil are playing better now because they are fitter now too.

    That debate was going on about snooker

    The consensus seemed to be that fitness didn't matter

    Fitness affects everything


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 19,572 ✭✭✭✭ PARlance


    Phil is in better shape now then anytime in his late 20s, 30s or early 40s.

    The reason he won was a factor of sheer skill but also fact he works hard on his diet and its helped him big style.

    Lowry would have another major or 2 only for his fitness.

    Golf is about a lot of good ball striking and hard work, but likes of Westwood and Phil are playing better now because they are fitter now too.

    And Rory would have 10 majors if hadn't hit the gym. That's a pie in the sky statement, as is your one about Shane. We've absolutely no way to know otherwise.

    If you look at T8 and better from yesterday, there really aren't too many "athletes" in it (Athletes in the traditional sense of well built/muscle mass, they are all golf-fit). Keopka is probably the outlier in terms of someone getting on the front cover of Sports Illustrated.

    Regarding older players, I think it's fair to say that physical condition comes into play.
    As athletes/people enter mid-late forties/fifties, they naturally lose some of their strength. To be consistently competing at the top level at that age, I think it's reasonable to say that they need to be looking after themselves very well. Not doing so makes a hard job even harder.

    I would say Phil's mental approach was as instrumental as his physical approach for the win. All based on the foundation that he is and has a naturally gifted ball striker all his career.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 16,064 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slave1


    There's also the simple chance of clicking for three days and then no-one clicking on the 4th day and let all your experience keep your head cool, same as Tiger winning his last Masters..


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,134 ✭✭✭ blue note


    You have all sorts of different types of fitness. Sure in rugby you even have lots of different types of fit required depending on your position. My point is that there are virtually no sports where you can reach the level of fitness / physical condition required to play at the top of the game at 50 years of age. It's far less common for golfers and in particular far less common to be consistent as you get to that age, but he's by no means an anomaly. As I pointed out in my OP, Harrington was T4 - he's nearly 50. Cink has won twice on the PGA tour this season - he's nearly 50. Watson almost winning the Open at 59 would have been the most stark example, but coming that close still says a lot.

    I had forgotten about Tom Brady and a quick google shows another plus 40 quarterback in the 2021 playoffs. They're still a long way shy of golfers for old though. And a quick google shows that the oldest weightlifter to ever compete in the olympics was 41.

    Fitness and physical conditioning are clearly important in golf. It's why Phil dropped out of the top 100 in the world. But my point is that there are virtually no sports where you can get away with not being in incredible physical condition for your sport. And age makes that impossible for virtually every sport.

    Golf is a sport where you can get away with being in good enough physical condition. Physically there's no way Phil or Stewart Cink are near the same level as brooks or Dustin Johnson.

    To be honest I think it's a strength of the game that the weighting towards skill over the physical side of it is so strong. But it is highly unusual for a sport. Darts and snooker are genuinely the only two examples I can think of where the weighting for the physical side is so low that you can have 50 year olds be competitive regularly. And guys pushing 60 occasionally.


  • Registered Users Posts: 782 ✭✭✭ thewobbler


    A few things.

    I don’t think fitness has much to do with it. I do think you could draw a correlation with those guys who enjoy the fruits of their labour more, being a little bigger. But it’s not weight that costs them tournament. They likely don’t take it as seriously until they’re in genuine contention.

    Golf looks like a skinny guy’s game because we’ve had a succession of brilliant extremely dedicated players come out of college in their early 20s. It’s only natural that same guys will lose their edge after they’ve earned 10s of millions.

    Re 50 year olds winning majors, I think this is going to become more prominent. Reason one being that we’ve probably gone as far as the rulemakers will allow in terms of distance. Any top class player turning 50 in the next decade will have to have had a 300 yard stock carry to compete on tour. If he loses 10-15 yards it’s really no big deal as he’s have been huge in the first place. The second reason is longevity. 50 now is the same as 40 in the 1970s. It’s really that big an age anymore.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,134 ✭✭✭ blue note


    I think it looks like a skinny (or rather muscular and lean) guy's game because most of the top guys now do look like athletes. But with golf it gives them that edge, whereas with other sports you might as well not show up if you're not in incredible shape.

    And I think you're right about more older guys competing in the future. I reckon the tech helps with that - you have guys 50 years old still hitting it 300 yards. And modern sports science will help with that too. Guys who are 50 years old are much better able to tailor their bodies so that they can be in serious physical shape for golf.

    But the point remains that golf is practically unique as a sport where you can have lads competing at the top at 50 years of age. Sure Langer has made 3 cuts in the masters in his 60s. That would be like Mark Hughes throwing on a jersey next season.


  • Registered Users Posts: 33,449 ✭✭✭✭ The_Kew_Tour


    PARlance wrote: »
    And Rory would have 10 majors if hadn't hit the gym. That's a pie in the sky statement, as is your one about Shane. We've absolutely no way to know otherwise.

    If you look at T8 and better from yesterday, there really aren't too many "athletes" in it (Athletes in the traditional sense of well built/muscle mass, they are all golf-fit). Keopka is probably the outlier in terms of someone getting on the front cover of Sports Illustrated.

    Regarding older players, I think it's fair to say that physical condition comes into play.
    As athletes/people enter mid-late forties/fifties, they naturally lose some of their strength. To be consistently competing at the top level at that age, I think it's reasonable to say that they need to be looking after themselves very well. Not doing so makes a hard job even harder.

    I would say Phil's mental approach was as instrumental as his physical approach for the win. All based on the foundation that he is and has a naturally gifted ball striker all his career.

    its not pie in the sky stuff. Just ask any Golfer who works out and ask them what it does.

    Hell ask the 6 Time Major Champion himself. Plenty of quotes on it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭ Season 2


    Phil hit it past Brooks a few times yesterday so he still has adequate length to compete.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭ bailey99


    winning at 50 was some achievement whatever way you look at it, but if you want an insane stat, Phil Mickelson has never in his life been the Number 1 ranked golfer in the world. Not even for one week. That's incredible!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,998 ✭✭✭ finglashoop


    bailey99 wrote: »
    winning at 50 was some achievement whatever way you look at it, but if you want an insane stat, Phil Mickelson has never in his life been the Number 1 ranked golfer in the world. Not even for one week. That's incredible!

    not when you consider he had tiger there


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,302 ✭✭✭ Miley Byrne


    I suppose indoor bowls, road bowling, flat racing jockeys (more so than jump jockeys), rally drivers, archery, clay pigeon shooting would all be sports that would allow older people to compete with younger people on a fairly level playing field


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭ bailey99


    not when you consider he had tiger there

    over 5 years he was number 2. Amazing feat to everyone i said it to (bar you of course) that he never made number 1 at some point. he won his first major in 2004, tiger wood one major in 2007 and one in 2008. But nothing then til 2019. Most people would've thought phil would've gotten to number one in the twilight of tigers dominance or just after it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Whiplash85


    Its conceivable that Mickelson becomes the last amateur to win a PGA tour event and the last 50 year old to win a major. When the story of golf is written he may not have the major wins of Woods but in the pantheon of greats he is right up there because of longevity. Those 2 aforementioned records might be a piece of golf real estate that he will own for quite some time.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 30 Chavez.


    Whiplash85 wrote: »
    Its conceivable that Mickelson becomes the last amateur to win a PGA tour event and the last 50 year old to win a major. When the story of golf is written he may not have the major wins of Woods but in the pantheon of greats he is right up there because of longevity. Those 2 aforementioned records might be a piece of golf real estate that he will own for quite some time.

    Why would he be the last one when it's becoming more commonplace not less


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,367 ✭✭✭ The Big Easy


    Chavez. wrote: »
    Why would he be the last one when it's becoming more commonplace not less

    How do you define more commonplace? There was 0 and now there's 1?

    He's the only one ever in history to do it and if anyone else is to do it, it'll be him again!


  • Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Whiplash85


    Chavez. wrote: »
    Why would he be the last one when it's becoming more commonplace not less

    What is becoming more commonplace?


  • Registered Users Posts: 737 ✭✭✭ Whiplash85


    How do you define more commonplace? There was 0 and now there's 1?

    He's the only one ever in history to do it and if anyone else is to do it, it'll be him again!

    Yeah I wasn't sure I understood his question which is why I asked to clarify above but yeah I agree 100% with your point. It is a statistical anomaly. Just because something happens once doesn't mean it will ever happen again. Nicklaus, Palmer, Hogan, Player, Watson all were too greats and is a feat they never accomplished in the long storied history of the game.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,513 ✭✭✭ Luckycharm


    its not pie in the sky stuff. Just ask any Golfer who works out and ask them what it does.

    Hell ask the 6 Time Major Champion himself. Plenty of quotes on it.

    Richard Bland won 1st European tour event other week at 48, the gym bunnies are getting injured alot more look at Dustin, Brooks, Jason Day (not sure if gym bunny), Tiger.
    Has Phil been out injured for any significant time, being a gym bunny doesn't help your putting short game and we know top golf is 50% mental as well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,513 ✭✭✭ Luckycharm


    How do you define more commonplace? There was 0 and now there's 1?

    He's the only one ever in history to do it and if anyone else is to do it, it'll be him again!

    The other thing is that the younger lads tend to be hungrier, less distractions businesswise, kids etc. It happened GMAC he said he wasn't as hungry when he made his money and started getting involved in other businesses.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,998 ✭✭✭ finglashoop


    bailey99 wrote: »
    over 5 years he was number 2. Amazing feat to everyone i said it to (bar you of course) that he never made number 1 at some point. he won his first major in 2004, tiger wood one major in 2007 and one in 2008. But nothing then til 2019. Most people would've thought phil would've gotten to number one in the twilight of tigers dominance or just after it.

    it is amazing. less so with the context of woods being number 1 for approx 10 years.


  • Advertisement
Advertisement