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 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

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

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

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

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

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

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)

Swimming

Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

 

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