Maturing with age

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Craig Stadler won a PGA event at 50. Peter Jacobsen won at 49. Fred Couples won in 1983, and then again in 2003, at the age of 44, and was named a captain's pick for the U.S. President's Cup team.

And 44-year-old Brad Faxon won last weekend's Buick Championship on the strength of a final-round 61.

Whoever said golf is a game that's being taken over by the young hasn't seen many leaderboards lately. Or taken a close look at the PGA money list, where seven of the top 10 players are closer to 50 than 20 (Vijay Singh, 42, David Toms, 38, Jim Furyk, 35, Kenny Perry, 45, Chris DiMarco, 37, Retief Goosen, 36, and Fred Funk, 49.

"With a lot of new players coming up, especially with the LPGA Tour, with Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis, everybody says you have to be younger and younger and younger," said Jacobsen, who was 15th in this year's U.S. Open.

"And obviously with what Tiger has done, it gives you the impression that, wow, you have to be young to do well.

"I disagree. A golf ball doesn't know how old you are. It was made to fit into the cup and if you can fit it in there at 25 or 55.

"People forget then when Sam Snead was competing on the tour he was winning tournaments well into his 50s and finished second at the L.A. Open one year at age 62. If you can stay in shape and stay relatively sane, you can have some fun and play great."

RYDER BEWARE

With the President's Cup Sept. 20 in Virginia, the Americans are hoping to shake their slump on the international stage. They're 3-1-1 in the President's, but have lost eight of the last 10 infinitely more prestigious Ryder Cups.

"From the American side it appears to me like it's more work than going out and having fun," said Stadler. "It doesn't look like they're enjoying it at all, and it reflects in their golf game."

Jacobsen says the Americans have to learn to relax and have fun, like the Europeans do.

NO PURSE MONEY

"I'll never forget 1995 at Oak Hill the Europeans won eight of the last 12 singles and we lost. We were all in the locker-room and the wives were the ones who were crying, I mean bawling.

"Why? There's no purse money, you got a bunch of free clothes and some cool USA pins, relax."

He was criticized for not taking the loss as hard as some people thought he should have, but said he couldn't bring himself to get worked up over a golf game after Paul Azinger addressed the team.

"He was the walking NBC commentator," said Jacobsen. "He had just come off of his bout of cancer, chemotherapy, and he was alive.

"He came into the players room, asked for everyone's attention and said 'I just want to tell you how proud I am of you. You handled yourselves with class. Last year I didn't even know if I'd be on this side of the divot, but here I am and I'm proud of each and every one of you.'

"That's when I started crying, when he put it in perspective. That's, unfortunately, where we've gone wrong with the Ryder Cup - we have to keep it in perspective because we've lost that."

READY, AMES, FIRE: Stephen Ames shot the low round of the day in yesterday's Blackhawk Tour Challenge, carding a three-under 68 to lead himself and partner Craig Stadler (even par 71) to a one-stroke win over Couples and Jacobsen, who finished at two-under.


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