The 2015 BMW Championship, originally the Western Open, is an old tournament (1899) with a fresh new look.
With Tiger’s star falling—now 272 on the tour—other stars are rising, many of whom are talented 20-somethings who are changing the face of golf.
Twelve substantial players that are in their 20's are standouts on the tour with Rory Mcllroy aged 26, Jason Spieth 22 and the “old” man Day, 27 leading the pack. This group which some call “the big three” have racked up enough impressive wins to make your head spin--between them winning five of the last six majors.
Any of these three players has the potential to take it all this week at Conway.
But also not to be counted out is Rickie Fowler who at age 26 was cool as a cucumber last week when he walked away with a one-shot win over Henrik Stenson, 39 at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
It wouldn't be out of the question to add Fowler to the other big guns turning "the big three" into "The Fab Four" or since there's already another group with that moniker, perhaps "The Fab Fore" might work better.
So who are these young superstars that are changing the game, our perceptions and adding a rush of adrenaline to a sport that had begun to be losing some of its shine after Tiger troubles hit the scene in 2009?
And just how young are they? To put things into perspective, Jason Spieth wasn't even born when Phil Mickelson turned pro in 1991.
These young men seem to be the real deal--talented, confident and committed.
So let's take a closer look.
Already a veteran of the game at age 22, it's hard not to like this guy, who's amazing sense of maturity and dry sense of humor belie his years. At Tuesday's press conference, his demeanor was confident but not cocky. He noted the beautiful condition of the course describing it as quirky with incredible greens.
Spieth first played Conway in 2013, his rookie year. Since then he's participated in 60 events.
His stellar playing in 2015 kept him near the top, if not on top, of every event he participated in until the playoffs. Recently he hit a little rough spot when he missed two cuts in a row. When questioned about his "letdown" he countered the term saying "there was no letdown--just two bad weeks."
He looks to be ready for Conway telling the media that he will be "going for broke here" meaning he'll be taking some risks. It should be fun to watch.
Rory should be well rested, after three months of limited play because of a "freak" ankle injury and just returning from six days in Bermuda.
His challenge may be just getting back his mental game and his rhythm for the busy upcoming days here and in Atlanta.
We got a preview of what we may see this week in the closing round at the Deutsche Bank, where he seemed to be getting it together for a strong finish and maintaining his #1 status along with his quest for the FedEx Cup.
Coming in after yesterday's Pro-am, Rory said that he found the course much different than how he remembered it in 2013--adding, "the course is in great shape--it's firm, the rough is up. I don't think we're going to be seeing too many scores near the 59 number this year" (referring to Furyk's course setting record 59 at the 2013 Championship).
He believes the key this week is going to be keep the ball out of the thick rough--which has really been beefed up in the last two years.
Having seven wins during the rolling ranking system that is based on two-year’s play—#1 Rory is still the guy to catch. If he performs well this week the chase will get even harder.
Day has been on a roll with four wins under his belt for 2015 and a non-stop schedule, he admits that he's "just kind of running on fumes recently, especially during the Deutsche Bank week" saying "it just hasn't stopped for me."
But he was able to catch his breath for a short time last week with a few days off before more practice on Saturday and Sunday and then 18 holes on Monday.
He likes playing Conway where he finished with a respectable tie for fourth in the 2013 BMW Championship.
He described himself as "boring" when one of the reporters asked what he liked to do in his downtime--adding, "I'm not Jordan Spieth or Tiger Woods."
Looking ahead to the next two weeks, when the race for the FedEx cup gets even hotter, Day nailed it saying "it's crunch time." His ultimate goal, number one and the FedEx Cup.
Will he or won't he. We'll know soon. Regardless, Day is still one of the hottest golfer’s on tour--and almost certainly will rank somewhere in the top five.
Fowler who's making his sixth start at this year's BMW Championship--finishing in the top-5 last year at Cherry Hills along with his recent win at the Deutsche Bank Championship looks to be in a good position to make a run for top dog.
He told the media he is “excited to be back here”—having played the course in the 2013 BWM Championship."
Declaring the course in great shape, he referenced the even rougher rough noting that “staying out of the rough will definitely help you out there."
He feels good coming in after his big win and a week off.
With his star, seemingly on the rise, Rickie recalls that last year he tried put himself in positions to win, while this year he “finally” started taking “care of business and has been able to rack up a few trophies."
Can Fowler do it. Yes. Will he? Wait and see.
One of the reasons that golf 2015 is so exciting is the infusion of this new young blood--and so much of it!
The difference between the "Tiger" days and today is that Tiger, in a sense, had the field to himself.
Now with these guys—they are all superstars—and depending upon the tournament—anyone could win.
Spieth, Day and Fowler will be teeing off together in a threesome in round one today at the 10th hole a little before noon.
At this point everyone is even. Sunday will be a different story. Should be an interesting weekend.
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