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Young guns take aim at Tour Championship, FedEx Cup millions

Steve Hummer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Golf

Being just 24 has its advantages, beyond even all the usual ones we'd repossess if only we could.

Say, for example, you're Justin Thomas and you're having a tough time of it on the golf course. Granted, that's a full-eclipse kind of rarity lately. Then, and only then, are you allowed to consider how absurd it all is that you have collected this cache of championships -- one of them major -- at a stage in life when most are just figuring out whether they should double- or triple-space their skinny resumes.

Only then does Thomas deploy the age card.

"Like in the middle of this year," he said, "whether I was struggling or when I was getting down on myself, I think that's just a good kind of a reality check. Look, yeah, I'm mad that I haven't done more. I'm mad that I've missed a couple cuts, which I hate more than anything. But look, I'm 24. I've won four times this season (five now). It's pretty awesome. I've won a lot more than a lot of players, not just a lot of 24-year-olds."

Other than that, Thomas and all those other precocious youngsters who are dominating the upper reaches of this week's Tour Championship behave as if they've been around since the hickory shaft.

Their idea of paying dues is getting a paper cut while handling one of those oversized winner's checks.

Just about everything in our culture bows to the young. Now, so does golf.

Twelve of this season's 47 events were won by players who were 23 or younger at the time of their victory. That's better than 25 percent. From 2000-11, according to the Golf Channel, that number was less than three percent.

The average age of the PGA Tour winner this season was just over 28. According to Golf Channel research, that average hadn't dipped below 30 in the past 35 years.

Don't trust anyone over 30: Six of the world's top 10 ranked players are under that bar. Four of the top five are 25 or younger.

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