CHANG­ING OF THE GUARD

Golf Australia - - AROUND THE TRAPS -

TWO things have be­come abun­dantly clear since the con­clu­sion of the Aus­tralian sum­mer of golf. First: The young tal­ent in this coun­try is im­mense. Sec­ond: Our twenty-some­things look set to rule the roost at our na­tional events for years to come.

The wave of fresh faces that crashed the party in Syd­ney and on the Gold Coast was cer­tainly ex­cit­ing – but it was also com­fort­ing. Aus­tralian golf fans can take so­lace know­ing we have a very healthy re­serve of tal­ent wait­ing in the wings, es­pe­cially with so much un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing two of our big­gest stars.

Ja­son Day played well at the Aus­tralian Open, and he did all that was asked of him away from the course. But his ap­pear­ances on home soil are likely to re­main spo­radic. Adam Scott, mean­while, is now in his late 30s and shocked his fol­low­ers when he missed the cut at the Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship.

Both play­ers faced sig­nif­i­cant dis­trac­tions and obli­ga­tions out­side of golf last sea­son – Day with the ill­ness of his mother (Den­ing) and Scott with the birth of his sec­ond child (By­ron) – but their fu­ture in Aus­tralia has be­come some­thing of a mys­tery.

Day said all the right things when asked whether he would re­turn for the Aus­tralian Open in 2018 – but his­tory sug­gests that to be an un­likely sce­nario. And Scott will need to spend suf­fi­cient time away from his young fam­ily in or­der to re­dis­cover the game that has so often thrilled us.

So while the two former World No.1s pon­der their fu­ture im­pact on Aus­tralian golf, it’s re­as­sur­ing to know there’s a skil­ful crop of young up-and-com­ers ready and will­ing to grab the green and gold ba­ton.

Smith and Davis – both of the Cameron clan – are seem­ingly lead­ing the way in that re­gard, over­com­ing strong fields to lift tro­phies at our two big­gest events.

Cameron Davis, 22, was left feel­ing numb after snatch­ing the ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open from the likes of three ma­jor win­ners. The lean 22-year-old now holds an im­pres­sive CV and has cer­tainly made a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion into the pro­fes­sional game, hav­ing also won the Aus­tralian Am­a­teur in 2015.

Most golf pun­dits have high­lighted Cameron Smith as our bright­est young star for some time now. But that was cer­tainly af­firmed when he won the Aus­tralian PGA with three Mas­ters Cham­pi­ons in the field. The 24-year-old has al­ready won on the PGA Tour and should con­tinue to com­pete in his na­tional cham­pi­onships for years to come.

Add names like Cur­tis Luck (21), Travis Smyth (22), Lu­cas Her­bert (22), Oliver Goss (23), Jor­dan Zu­nic (26), An­thony Quayle (23) and Min Woo Lee (19) – and Aus­tralian golf looks to be in good hands. So rest as­sured, golf fans. There’s plenty to look for­ward to.

– Michael Jones.

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