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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Phenom Update

With all due respect to El Pato, I'd like to take the focus away from the US Open for a moment.

If you haven't noticed, there are some very young players making bold statements in the world of professional golf. Two of them played in the US Open, and one was in the Nationwide event held over the weekend. They are all age 22 or under, so it would be safe to call them phenoms. They are Anthony Kim, Pablo Martin, and Jaime Lovemark.

I mentioned Lovemark in my June 14th post. You may not have heard, but he lost a playoff on Sunday to Chris Riley (the Chris Riley of Ryder Cup infamy) at the Rochester Area Charities Showdown after shooting a 65 in the final round. The NCAA individual champion looks like he's ready to step up to the next level -- and he just finished his FRESHMAN year at Southern Cal. If the trajectory of his game continues, he'll be one of the hottest tickets in golf by 2009. Mark my words.

Pablo Martin is a much-heralded Spanish golfer who just left Oklahoma State to turn pro. He turned 21 two months ago, and a couple of weeks shy of his birthday, Martin (pronounced mar-TEEN) became the first amateur ever to win on the European Tour. I think that his victory is the most overlooked golf story of the year. I'm sure many of you didn't even know it happened. Then, almost immediately after finishing school, he qualified for the US Open and finished in a tie for 30th. He was right in the thick of it before shooting 77 on Saturday. That's pretty stellar playing for a guy who was in college a month ago. In fact, I have a feeling that he will fulfill the promise that Sergio Garcia has not yet reached. I've watched him play, and he has major game, a fearless attitude, and lots of maturity.

Today is Anthony Kim's 22nd birthday, and he is the one with whom you should be familiar. He left Oklahoma after his junior year (he didn't get along with the coach), and in his first PGA event last, he tied for 2nd. Since then, he has backed it up by nabbing nine top 25s and four top 10s in eighteen events. And, his 67 on Sunday at Oakmont was the second best round of the tournament, and the best in the final round by two strokes. In nine months on Tour, he has zoomed from no status to number 66 in the world. He is now ranked 44th in the President's Cup rankings, and if I were Jack Nicklaus, I'd pick him as a wild card. Kim is a fiery personality who isn't afraid to speak his mind. Thankfully for him, his golf has been doing most of the talking lately.

Sometimes phenoms don't pan out. There is a new set of "young guns" just about every year who are touted as the guys who will take down Tiger. These three may not ever break Tiger's records, but they will be giving him a run for the money in the years to come. I can guarantee it.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Champ said...

If you haven't already noticed, I've been burning up starts with Kim on my fantasy team. That kid is good. Didn't he fire a -3 67 on Sunday at Oakmont? Not too shabby. I think he's got good Sunday numbers as well.

2:56 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

Kim is not afraid to go low. If he doesn't get selected to the Presidents Cup, he'll probably make the Ryder Cup next year. He's behind the eight ball for Royal Montreal because everyone else had an extra year to accrue points.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Ok, looks like I have to go to Topeka, KS for a meeting on the 5th of July but I have to catch a flight out of WDC on July 4th. Booo. So, do I head out early and play Prairie Dunes - about 3 hrs from Topeka, 4 hours from Kansas City where I'm flying in and out of. Or do I stay sorta local and choose from Colbert Hills in Manhattan - ranked #1 modern course in KS in Golfweek's listings or play Shoal Creek in Kansas City, MO ranked #2 in MO.

Of course Prairie Dunes but that's a lot of driving around and travel and I don't even want to be out there over the 4th. Am I being a sissy? Should I man up and just do it?

3:43 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

I would play Colbert Hills. Then you can have Jay and I come with you to play Prairie Dunes in the fall when it's not as hot and you aren't rattled from all of the travel. It's not like you can't play there anytime you want and this is your only shot at getting on.

The other question is: what will I shoot at Bethpage this weekend?

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Swammy said...

92

4:38 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

I'd take a 92. 88 would make my day, but a 92 wouldn't be awful. I think the key will be keeping it in the short stuff.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

96

1:02 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

96 would at least be breaking 100, but I'm aiming to do much better than that. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

1:47 PM  

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