One week, University of Georgia senior Lee McCoy posts the best amateur finish in a non-opposite-field event on the PGA Tour since 1998, finishing fourth.
The very next week, reigning U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau and Maverick McNealy, the second-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, make the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, besting players such as Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald.
Who, the casual Tour fan might wonder, are these kids? And how did they get here?
Welcome to the Tiger Woods generation. Led by 22-year-old Jordan Spieth, winner of two major championships last year, this is the crew that grew up watching Woods. Just as Tiger had a poster of Jack Nicklaus over his bed, players in this crowd had Tiger’s poster over their beds. But they also had 24-hour golf television, something Tiger didn’t have as he grew up dreaming of chasing Jack’s records.
Think about what these kids saw. The Tiger Slam in 2000-01. A U.S. Open title on a broken leg. Dramatic playoff wins and wire-to-wire romps. And so many I-can’t-believe-that-shot moments that caused their young jaws to drop over a 15-year span during their formative years. What they saw with their eyes was awe-inspiring and motivational.
Tiger may not have inspired tons of people to pick up the game, but he did cause this cohort to aspire to greatness at a younger age than we have ever witnessed in the history of the pro game.