Young Guns: The 2016-17 PGA Tour Season Shattered The Millennial Record

The first tournament of the calendar year was won by a 23-year-old (Justin Thomas) and so was the finale of the PGA Tour season when Xander Schauffele conquered the Tour Championship. The youth movement swept across the sport in 2016-17, and if you need further evidence, the FedEx Cup was hoisted by a now 24-year-old Thomas.

In between those two tournaments, millennials dominated the circuit. Players under 25 shattered a record held on tour since 2000, with 18 wins on the PGA Tour. The previous record was 10, and nine of those came courtesy of Tiger Woods. From 2003 through 2011, there were only 17 tournaments won by players 24 or younger.

Need additional proof? The average age of winners on this season was 28.9 – the youngest for a full season. (Shoutout to Golf Channel senior researcher Justin Ray for the numbers.)

Thomas showcased all season long he was the deserving contender for not only the FedEx Cup, but also PGA Tour Player of the Year, which he should win unanimously. Five wins against the quality of fields he competed in is no easy task, and when he didn’t reach the top of the leaderboard, he came darn near close (12 top fives).

But what’s crazy? Thomas isn’t even one of the top three players in the World Golf Rankings. We haven’t even started discussing Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama, who combined for 11 wins this season.

Now 33-years-old, DJ isn’t exactly a kid anymore, but will still be a huge threat on any given Sunday. Spieth is Spieth and is going to impress for many, many years to come, and despite Matsuyama suffering a late-season collapse, he’s only 25 and capable of winning several major titles.

The top five in the final FedEx Cup standings were JT, Spieth, Schauffele, DJ and 22-year-old Jon Rahm. The average age of those players? 25.2. That’s easily the lowest since the format was unveiled in 2007. The game is in good hands, folks.

The 2016-17 season was a blast, but can you imagine how entertaining the next campaign could be? Especially if these young guys such as Rahm and Schauffele continue improving. We’ll also have a motivated Rory McIlroy returning with a vengeance, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler seeking a return to the winner’s circle and Brooks Koepka defending his U.S. Open title.

The great thing about these storylines? All of the players mentioned are under 30.

Outsiders said golf couldn’t excel without the dominance of Tiger or Phil Mickelson. Sure, that era was amazing to watch, and who wouldn’t love to see those two tee it up again in their prime. But it was bound to end sooner than later. This current wave has no end destination. Five years from now, we’re still going to be talking about Thomas and Spieth and Matsuyama and Rahm. They’ll all still be 30 years or younger, competing against the next young phenoms of the sport.

Maybe there will be another article written then, describing the broken records and superb play by youngsters. But we’ll all remember 2016-17 as the launching pad for the youth movement.

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