In the vast majority of sports, the 20-somethings have an edge on the 40-somethings, largely because in general they can react quicker, are stronger, fitter, have greater flexibility and more of just about everything else that matters.
This is not always true in golf, though, where it can some times take year’s of experience to know how to react to this massive mind game.
A case in point is Sunday’s winner of the South African Airways Open, James Kingston.
The 42-year-old journeyman golfer has been on the verge of bigger things on more occasions than he would care to remember, but too often had let almost certain victory slip between his fingers.
That was until Sunday, when a video on positive thinking and some comforting advice from his caddy helped keep him calm and focused for long enough to hold off never-say-die Englishman Oliver Wilson.
That Wilson, the younger by far of the two, clearly lacked Kingston’s experience in handling the crushing pressure of a final round that can go any way, was evident in the way his putting, so smooth and confident earlier in the tournament, suddenly became tentative and unsure and if anything was responsible for him losing his one-shot overnight lead and firing a one-over 73 to Kingston’s winning 71.
Vijay Singh had the most successful spell in his distinguished career in his early forties when he became the only man to briefly replace Tiger Woods at the top of the World Ranking list.
So men like Kingston’s better known South African compatriots, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who are getting into their late 30s and were among the players in last week’s field that never even got a smell of victory, need not despair.
If they can stay free of injury and get their all important mind-games right, there should be nothing to stop them winning again – even in the majors.
It’s quite ironic isn’t it, that Kingston might just be the inspiration to set The Big Easy and the Goose back on a winning track they seem to have lost in the last couple of years.
Neville Leck