Match play reveals youth wave sweeping pro golf - The Explorer: Sports

Match play reveals youth wave sweeping pro golf

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Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:28 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Shaggy-haired kids in tight jeans, wearing white belts and checkered Vans, clustering outside ropes to get a glimpse of the on-stage talent, racing and jockeying for better viewing position, cheering when they see the entertainers, who look a lot like they do.

The latest downtown emo concert?

Nope, it’s a golf tournament.

During the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship last week, it was pretty obvious that golf — that stereotypically “older” sport – has evolved past its country club roots, and has found a new audience, one that may only know Arnold Palmer as a tasty mix of lemonade and iced tea.

That audience directly reflects the youth of the players now dominating golf.

Rory McIlroy, a professional golfer from Northern Ireland, is 19 but looks 14. He has the shaggy hair, the white belt and the tighter pants befitting his age group, and looks like he would be just as at home holding a Guitar Hero controller as a nine iron.

Camilo Villegas, a Columbian, is a well-tanned 27, confident, and if the number of young women following him from green to green is any indicator, is developing a following that could culminate with a Tiger Beat teen-idol spread one day.

American Dustin Johnson is 24, 6-4 and looks every inch the college student that his stint at Coastal Carolina University would suggest.

In fact, out of the 64 competitors at the match play championship, the top-ranked 64 worldwide, 38 were under the age of 35, many under the age of 30. Tournament champion Geoff Ogilvy is 31.

This new breed of golfer not only looks different, but also has drawn a different crowd to golf.

Alongside the slacks-and-cigar set still prominent at the tournament, flip-flop wearing fraternity boys, yoga pants-draped sorority girls, skate-company-aficionado teens and hip-hop style-influenced NBA fans were all enjoying the sun and the birdies.

Even the older golfers have recruited younger fans, as evidenced by devotees of the 38-year-old Phil Mickelson. Drinking beers at 10:30 a.m. and dressed in full-body white jumpsuits with Mickelson-extolling phrases drawn on in permanent marker, three college guys made wisecracks throughout Mickelson’s walk to the fairway, but fell stone silent during his shot. When the shot was made, loud cheering and thumbs up made their way to the appreciative golfer, who shot back a smile in return.

That mixture of the old respect and the new fun could be seen everywhere at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club the past week, with neither crowd seeming to be upset by the other.

In these trying and divided times, that’s a breath of fresh air.

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

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