The Loop

Fields: The Case For Youth

April 11, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Will youth be served this weekend at the Masters? Trevor Immelman leads the season's first major championship after 36 holes at eight-under 136 with Brandt Snedeker one shot behind. The interesting thing about this is that Immelman is only 28 years old, while Snedeker is 27.

While it's true that many golfers mature in their 30s and play their best golf in that decade, the game's best players traditionally have won majors before their 30th birthday. It has been said often that Augusta National's greens are suited to a young man's nerves. But Immelman and Snedeker are trying to do something that -- except for Tiger Woods, who won his four Masters titles when he was in his 20s -- hasn't been done lately at Augusta National, where winners have been an average of 32.63 years old.

Other than Woods, the last golfer in his 20s to claim a green jacket was Jose Maria Olazabal, who was 28 when he won his first Masters in 1994. Before that, you have to go back to Larry Mize's victory in 1987. The Augusta native was 28 when he beat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros in a playoff.

Immelman could have something going for him this weekend: This is his sixth Masters appearance, and the average number of attempts before someone's first victory at Augusta National is ... six. This is Snedeker's second Masters, his first as a professional.

-- Bill Fields