Old Enough to Win; Players in Their 20s Offer Plenty of Talent

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Byline: Barker Davis, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Golf's young guns are finally firing.

No offense to the game's convalescing king, but the first leg of the 2008 season has been defined by the long-awaited arrival of golf's twentysomething cavalry.

By quashing a stacked field at Quail Hollow last week, 22-year-old Anthony Kim not only consummated his own vast potential as a three-time All-American at Oklahoma by becoming the PGA Tour's youngest champion since Sergio Garcia as a 21-year-old at the 2002 Mercedes, he put an exclamation point on an undeniable trend sweeping both of golf's major tours.

Kim became the eighth player under 30 to win in 20 PGA Tour events thus far this season; only seven twentysomethings were victorious in all of 2007 (47 events). In Europe, a similar seven players under 30 already have collected the winner's laurels.

Trevor Immelman's conquest at last month's Masters undoubtedly stands as the younger set's crowning moment thus far in 2008. After all, the 28-year-old South African was a charter member of the heralded crop of young shotsmiths known as the Young Guns (along with the likes of Garcia, Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, Justin Rose and Charles Howell). And Immelman's wire-to-wire green jacket uprising ended the group's somewhat startling 0-fer in the major championships.

"There was a crop of young guys when we were coming through. You know, the media really expected us to stand up and just start winning tournaments, and it just doesn't work like that," Immelman said last week. "Experience counts for so much. And that's why I think you'll find now as we start reaching our late 20s, guys will start getting comfortable with their games and getting comfortable with their surroundings, and I think you'll start seeing guys in their late 20s now starting to win more regularly."

Indeed, Immelman's performance at Augusta National came in the middle of a run in which players in their 20s have won five of the last six PGA Tour events.

Argentine birdie machine Andres Romero began the streak in New Orleans. Scott provided a highlight with his 50-foot birdie bomb to edge 25-year-old Ryan Moore in a playoff at the Byron Nelson Classic two weeks ago. …