CHANGING OF THE GUARD
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.