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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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The golden agers club
Golfers are fitter than ever, use technology to stay young and often prosper well into their 40s.
By BOB HARIG
Published February 27, 2007
Golfers are fitter than ever, use technology to stay young and often prosper well into their 40s. And the Champions Tour has served to help them keep their games sharp. But that has not translated into an abundance of 50-somethings winning on the PGA Tour. Fred Funk did it at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun on Sunday, becoming the sixth player in PGA Tour history to win in his 50s. He became the fifth oldest to do so, but no player older than Funk had won on the PGA Tour in more than 30 years. Here is a look at players who have won in their 50s.
52 years, 10 months
1965 Greater Greensboro Open: The Slammer won the last of his PGA Tour-record 82 titles in an event he won for a record eighth time. Snead won 17 times after turning 40.
51 years, 7 months
1975 Greater Milwaukee Open: Wall won 14 times in his career, including four titles in 1959, the year he won the Masters by a stroke over Cary Middlecoff. His last victory before Milwaukee had come in 1966.
51 years, 3 months
1937 Long Island Open: Barnes, known as "Long Jim" because of his height (6-3), came to the U.S. from England and won the first PGA Championship, played in 1916 and again in 1919. He also won the U.S. Open in 1921 and the British Open in 1925 and had 21 total victories.
51 years, 1 month
1962 Cajun Classic: Barnum's two claims to fame: He became the first player to win using a Ping putter and the oldest to win his first tournament.
50 years, 1 month
2003 B.C. Open: The Walrus' victory also came in an opposite event; it was the same week as the British Open. It was his 13th PGA Tour victory, and he became the first player (Funk is the second) to win a Champions Tour event and PGA Tour event in the same year after turning 50.
1992 Doral: Deserves mention. Although his last victory came at age 49 in 1992 at Doral, he later that year turned 50 and became the first player to win on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour in the same year.
Match Play Woes
The weekend offered the perfect example of why the PGA Tour plays just one match play event over the year: the potential for a lack of star power. When Tiger Woods was eliminated Friday, none of the first- or second-seeded players was left. Golf is not like the NCAA basketball tournament where a 16th seed never wins. Other than Woods going down to Nick O'Hern, upsets in golf are really more of a mild surprise.
That said, the two finalists are names to remember. Geoff Ogilvy, the reigning U.S. Open champion, was bidding for his second straight Match Play title. And Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who won the title for his first PGA Tour win, has won five times in Europe, including this month at the Dubai Desert Classic, where Ernie Els was second and Woods was third. Stenson, who made the clinching putt for the European Ryder Cup team last fall, jumped to fifth in the World Ranking on Monday.
All of his success often numbs us to the fact that Woods, too, can struggle. That was certainly the case Friday when he was defeated by O'Hern on the 20th hole of their match. Woods had fallen 4-down at one point, only to rally, then miss a 4-footer for birdie that would have won on the first extra hole. But he had his issues for most of the day, including the inability to know where his misses were headed.
"I had the two-way miss going," Woods said afterward. "I hit it right because I was (trying to) hit it left. It's one of those things, when if you're hitting it right or left, you can play for it. I had a combo thing going."
O'Hern became the first player to defeat Woods twice at match play as a professional. He also did it in 2005.
Vijay Singh, who won the 2004 tournament at Innisbrook on his way to a nine-victory, $10-million season, has committed to next week's event, along with other former major championship winners Tom Lehman and Todd Hamilton. Others in the field ranked among the top 25 in the world are Sergio Garcia, Charles Howell, O'Hern, Chris DiMarco, Stuart Appleby and defending champion K.J. Choi.
2007 Mayakoba Classic: Funk might get an asterisk because his victory came in an opposite event; the top 64 in the world competed in the Match Play. Still, his playoff win over Jose Coceres was his eighth, and sixth since turning 40. Funk is expected to play at next week's PODS Championship.