Reavie, Potter and Swafford Not Exactly a Youth Movement, but Emerging
When we talk about the youth movement in golf, my mind goes to the LPGA where youth can mean mid-teens (See Lydia Ko: Canadian Open). I have fallen into a misguided assumption that if a pro on the PGA gets into his thirties and hasn’t yet set the place on fire, he probably never will. This week’s leaderboard at the Sony Open tells a different story. Yes, those poor pros are spending a second week in Hawaii. Last week, it was Kapalua, and now it’s the Sony Open at the Walalea Country Club on the island of Oahu. In contention are three golfers, two of which I have never heard, and one that might be classified as a “sort of.” They are all thirty-somethings, they have all won on tour, and they all either have weird, unearthly things happen to them, or have oddly interesting associations or conditions in their past. If the trio of Hudson Swafford, Ted Potter, Jr. and Chez Reavie are going to rule golf, they had better hurry up, but their presence does suggest that while we wait for the old guard to recuperate, rehab, and start winning again, they no longer own the crown any more, and likely never will.
Hudson Swafford is only 31. A Florida boy, which is generally great for golf, he was noticed for one of the PGA’s oddest penalties some time back at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Open. He took a practice swing that sent a divot flying into his ball – one-stroke penalty. I had never seen that one before. He played at the University of Georgia in an excellent career. While there, he was a member of a mysterious shadow organization, the Gridiron Secret Society. The corps of a clandestine alien takeover? A spy network? Oh, Jimmy Carter was a member – never mind. Swafford has won on tour at the 2017 Career Build Challenge. He’s legit, sharing one of the top spots with Ted Potter, Jr.
In his first round at the Oahu course, Potter hit an extraordinary number of fairways and greens in regulation. Plus, he never missed a putt under ten feet, not one. Potter is naturally right handed but plays left-handed. Isn’t that the case with Phil Mickelson? Well, that may help. We know it can be done. Ted is 35 and has won twice, the first time at the Greenbrier Classic of 2012, and the At&T at Pebble Beach in 2017. He has played through a rash of broken ankles, and one who hasn’t experienced that must wonder how it’s possible. Almost any injury threatens a golfer, since they use literally everything in the body to swing and think. Potter is in hot pursuit of Chez Reavie, who is in hot pursuit of Matt Kuchar.
Reavie is not unknown to me as winner of the 2008 Canadian Open. That’s about all I know of him. He almost won two more, the Waste Management Phoenix and the Deutsche Bank, but fell in a playoff both times. A Wichita native, he played for Arizona State, and all that is fine and normal. However, what he did at Oahu literally scares me right back to thoughts of alien invasions. Even Tiger didn’t do this in the old days. Reavie holed out three times for eagle from over 100 yards – in the same round! On the Muni Tour where I am a regular, we are lucky to do that once in our entire lives, and usually we were aiming somewhere else and just hit it wrong. Three times in the same round? If I’ve ever wanted an irons lesson with anyone, this is the man.
What is even more extraordinary than the Swafford, Potter, Reavie phenomenon, is that there is a wave of teens marching up the proverbial fairway right behind them, and will rule the tour soon, well before Tiger becomes a grandpa. They may be thing to watch, not whether Tiger will win another major. Still, with that three-eagles thing, I’m going to keep an eye on Chez Reavie. If an alien takeover ever comes out of the golf world, that’s the guy who will lead it.