We Will Survive

February 09, 1998

Conventional wisdom says that Generation Next is taking over
golf while older players are being squeezed into oblivion. I'm
43 and in my 22nd year on the Tour. I've got a wife and three
kids pulling on me to come home, a troublesome back, a
course-design firm and my band, Jake Trout and the Flounders.
Put me up against the hungry twentysomethings and I'm toast,
right?

Maybe not. There's a challenge to making a last stand, and I
think we Tour elders are up to it. We may be getting older, but
competitive pride and golf's never-ending search for perfection
keep us getting better. Wasn't that 38-year-old Fred Couples,
bad back and all, winning the Hope last month? Didn't Tom
Watson, 48, contend at Phoenix and Pebble Beach?

We graybeards don't have the distance we used to, but there's
more than one way to skin a Tiger. Here's my survival kit.

--HONE THE SHORT GAME After working hard with short-game guru
Dave Pelz in 1994, I won twice early in '95, made the Ryder Cup
team and was seventh on the money list. Last year, at 40, Mark
O'Meara got up and down from everywhere but the Pacific to hold
off Tiger and win at Pebble.

--PUMP SOME IRON Today's middle-aged Tour player is leaner and
stronger than ever. Most oldsters exercise like crazy. Look at
Tom Lehman--he just lost 25 pounds--or Greg Norman, the fittest
42-year-old I know.

--GET TIGERISH Your fire needn't wane as you get older and your
hair gets thinner. When I did eight tournaments as a commentator
for ABC in 1993, it was hard being off the course. So now my
focus is back on playing winning golf. Want proof? I recently
turned down an offer to do more work for network television.

After some time outside the ropes, I'm back where I want to be.

Peter Jacobsen's best season on Tour was the year he turned 41.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Old news: Guys like Jacobsen can still play. [Peter Jacobsen]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)