Newspaper article International New York Times

Woods Loses Dominance over Game's New Players ; His Physical Advantages Have Been Corroded by Injuries and Technology

Newspaper article International New York Times

Woods Loses Dominance over Game's New Players ; His Physical Advantages Have Been Corroded by Injuries and Technology

Article excerpt

Over time, Tiger Woods's physical advantages have been corroded by injuries and technology, most notably the advent of hybrid clubs and drivers with grapefruit-size heads.

Patrick Reed, 23, a two-time winner on the Professional Golf Association tour in 2014, is part of the latest wave of young golfers to crash ashore and churn the rankings. The world's top 50 players include eight under the age of 25, with Reed among them at No.20.

It is not the first time the tour has been in the path of a youth swell. In April 2004, there were four players under 25 in the top 50, led by the 23-year-old Australian Adam Scott, who rocketed to No.12 shortly after winning the Players Championship.

Joining Scott were the Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who challenged Tiger Woods at the 1999 P.G.A. Championship as a teenager and won three times on tour before his 25th birthday; the South African Trevor Immelman; and the American Charles Howell III, who won for the first time on tour at 23.

In the decade since, Scott and Immelman have won the Masters. Of the four, only Scott has circled the No.1 spot. Scott, who turns 34 in July, could have overtaken Woods with a victory at the points- rich World Golf Championships event at Doral, outside Miami, two weeks ago. Even with Woods sidelined with a back injury, Scott cannot ascend to No. 1 with a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But he can at least see the summit.

During Scott's first few years as a pro, Woods was so much better than any other golfer that Scott could not picture anyone else in the No.1 spot. Shortly after he turned pro in 2000, Scott recalled, he played a practice round with Woods in Las Vegas that made him wonder if he had chosen the wrong career.

"It was clear he was doing things that other players couldn't do," Scott said Wednesday. "And I don't just mean like his mental strength that no one else seemed to have."

He added, "It's just that physically he was hitting shots no one else was capable of hitting."

Woods, 38, has not lost his mental fortitude, but over time his physical advantages have been corroded by injuries and technology, most notably the advent of hybrid clubs and drivers with grapefruit- size heads. …

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