Young stars storm Cadillac leaderboard, spotlight

Nick Watney acknowledges the crowd at the Cadillac Championship.

Nick Watney acknowledges the crowd at the Cadillac Championship.

DORAL, Fla. – The leaderboard after three rounds of the WGC Cadillac Championship apparently represents the new world order. This is what we have now, so get used to it.

Of the top eight scorers, all within three shots of the lead, co-runners-up Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald are the old men at 33. Adam Scott, 30, is the only other one not in his 20s.

The rest are twentysomethings, led by Dustin Johnson, leader by two strokes at 13-under par. Nick Watney, 29, who rinsed a low left drive and double-bogeyed the Blue Monster’s difficult 18th, is among the three players tied for second.

(Digressing: Watney’s retreat, of course, prevented perhaps the best “interesting eyes” fourth-round pairing since Stephen Ames was in the mix somewhere with someone else with a curious glance.)

Anyway, several other players under 30 are among the top 25 scorers, starting with the threesome of Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari and Hunter Mahan tied with Scott for fifth at 10 under.

Then there are the Martins – Laird and Kaymer – as well as Ryo Ishikawa, Aaron Baddeley, Louis Oosthuizen, Jhonattan Vegas and Rickie Fowler. That’s about half of the top 25 under age 30.

It used to be that Tiger Woods was always the youngest player on his Ryder or Presidents Cup team and the repeated question was, “Where are the kids?”

Well, they’re here. Nineteen of those top 25 are younger than Woods.

The days when the Hall-of-Fame likes of Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington dominated and blocked the kids are gone. Those days are so five years ago.

Woods, his putting off and some of his tee shots mind-blowing, is tied for 30th. Mickelson is T-42.

The moral of the story is those two have more competition than they’ve ever had. Those five Hall-of-Fame guns and others like Lee Westwood and Jim Furyk are still in the game, of course. They’ll continue to contend, of course.

But it’s just not their game anymore, one they had a headlock on for so long.

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