Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

My Mistake: Mrs. Mattiace Right All Along

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

My Mistake: Mrs. Mattiace Right All Along

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

OK, Kristen, you were right.

It was a practice round day at The Players Championship four months ago, when I ran into Kristen Mattiace, the wife of Jacksonville resident and PGA Tour veteran Len Mattiace. After exchanging our greetings, she brought up an article I had written that week about the PGA Tour's "Young Guns," the crop of players in their teens or early 20s -- Sergio Garcia, David Gossett, Charles Howell III, Ty Tryon and Matt Kuchar -- who were the most likely to challenge the dominance of Tiger Woods.

Kristen, a school teacher by trade, refreshed my memory about the PGA Tour's winners that winter and spring. To that point, Woods, 26, had won only once. Garcia, 22, opened the year by winning the Mercedes Championship and Kuchar, 24, had won the Honda Classic.

The other 10 winners, including Craig Perks that week in The Players and Len Mattiace a month before in the Nissan Open, were in their mid-30s.

Howell and Gossett not only hadn't won, but were hard-pressed to scare up a top-10 finish. Tryon had missed the cut in four starts.

"So much for the 'Young Guns,' " Kristen said. "What have they done? Except for Tiger, the guys in their 30s are the ones winning."

It was true then, and it's even truer now.

Jerry Kelly's comeback victory last week at the Western Open was the 13th in the last 15 Tour events by a player in his 30s, and the 23rd overall this season, in 28 events. Excluding Woods' three victories, and those by Garcia and Kuchar, the average age of Tour winners this year is almost exactly 35.

Woods heads the current money list, and Garcia is eighth. After those two, you have to dig to 27th to find the next 20-something player, Kuchar. Then it's to 37th for Howell, 52nd for Rory Sabbatini. Gossett is 84th and Tryon still hasn't won a dime.

Phil Mickelson, Mattiace and Kelly (average age, 34) are the only other multiple winners on Tour this year behind Woods' three titles. …

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