Golfers Who Held Back the Hands of Time
WITH all the success currently being enjoyed by twentysomethings on both sides of The Pond it is easy to run away with the idea that professional golf is a young man’s game. In the not-too-distant past, it was generally accepted that a golfer did not reach his prime until his mid-thirties. With his incredible fitness regime, Tiger Woods changed that forever.
Most of today’s young stars seem to spend as much time in the gym as they do on the course or the practice ground. But that doesn’t mean that they always have things their own way.
Here, we look at 10 players who have defied the years and, in some cases, continue to do so.
The Fijian had enjoyed an impressive enough career, winning 12 times before he was 40, but it moved to a different level when he turned 40. After he reached that landmark he won an astonishing 22 times on the PGA Tour. What’s more, he is still competing on the main tour in his 50s.
As we all know, the Golden Bear finished his incredible career with 18 majors to his name but it was the last of those, in The Masters at Augusta in 1986, that lives longest in the memory. Why? He was 46 years of age, came into the tournament with no form to speak of and was competing against the likes of Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros, who were both in their prime. But on that memorable Sunday afternoon in April, Nicklaus found something, shot a final round of 65 and landed his 18th major.
Snead, he of the silky smooth golf swing, won a mind-boggling 82 tournaments during a stellar career - it is a total that 42-year-old Tiger Woods is striving to emulate. Of that impressive total, 17 came after he reached the age of 40. His last victory came when he was 52 years of age.
The five-time Open champion achieved most of his success in his twenties and thirties, but there was one remarkable week at Turnberry in 2009 when, at the venerable age of 59, Watson made time stand still. In 1977 he and Jack Nicklaus had taken part in the most famous Open of them all, the incomparable Duel In The Sun, and a return to the Ayrshire coast clearly Brough back happy memories for Watson. He came to the final hole needing a par to win a sixth Claret Jug. It would have been the most incredible sports story of all time. Sadly, he took five and, completely spent, lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff.
The American with the idiosyncratic golf swing was a decent enough tournament professional, making a good living and winning three times. But then he reached the age of 40 and found a new lease of life, winning 11 further times, and was runner-up at the 2009 Masters aged 48.
Stricker was twice named Comeback Player of the Year. After a promising start to his career, winning three times, he completely lost his way. But he kept grinding away and won nine times after turning 40. Since turning 50 he has become a part-time player but still contends on the PGA Tour almost every time he competes.
Boros holds the record as the oldest winner of a major. He was 48 years old when he claimed the US PGA Championship in 1968. Half of his 18 wins came after he turned 40, including the 1963 US Open - at the time it made him the oldest winner of that event too. When he was 53, he shared the lead at the 1973 US Open with 10 holes to play before ultimately finishing seventh.
Floyd always walked like a man who’d had a walking stick planted somewhere the sun doesn’t shine, but he was a very fine golfer for a lot of years. He won The Masters, US Open and US PGA Championship but arguably his finest moment came in 1992 when, at the age of 49, he finished level after 72 holes with Nick Faldo at The Masters. Sadly, he ran out of steam, Faldo holed a monster putt and Floyd missed out on becoming the oldest winner of a major.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
The Spaniard just won the Senior Open, but he can still show the young guns a thing or two. He won 14 times after turning 40. Not only that but when he took the Hong Kong Open in 2012 at the age of 48 he became the oldest winner of a mainstream event on the European Tour. And just for good measure, he returned 12 months later and won it again, this time just a month short of his 50th birthday, later making history by winning the Open de Espana when eliglbe for the senior tour.
If ever there was a golfer who defies the years it is the German. He has always been a meticulous player and his appearance and swing have not changed one iota over the years. Longer looks after himself and still, at the age of 60, hits the ball as far as he ever did. While the likes of Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas were missing the cut at the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, Langer was making serene progress. At one stage he even found his way onto the leaderboard before eventually finishing in 24th place. Earlier in the year he was 38th at The Masters, four years after finishing in a tie for eighth at the age of 56.
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