"There's no fear in these kids," says Norman approvingly. This was made abundantly clear to him at February's Greg Norman International in Sydney, where Scott shot a 10-under 63, the lowest score by an amateur in the history of the Australasian tour. Previously over-shadowed by his mate Aaron Baddeley, Scott, 19, a native of Hope Island, Queensland, came into his own over the last 12 months, during which he was an All-America as a freshman at Nevada-Las Vegas and then, this spring, a force on the European tour, where back-to-back top six finishes at the Moroccan Open and the Benson & Hedges International convinced him that he was ready to turn pro.
Though he has long been a source of inspiration and advice, Norman had never teed it up with Scott until a Tuesday practice round at the International. "He blew my mind," said Norman. "He launches it as far as Tiger and hits it as straight as Tiger and putts as well as Tiger." Gesturing toward his heart, Norman added, "But it depends on what's right here."
Issues of the heart will be a dominant theme at next week's PGA Championship at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, where Woods will be looking to be the first man since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three majors in a season. Gossett, Haas, Howell and Scott will be at home watching on TV, and without the impetuousness of youth, it will be up to golf's old guard to make a stand. Els and Mickelson have to rate as having the best chance of turning back Woods. Mickelson was the 36-hole leader at Valhalla when the PGA was played there in 1996, and he has elevated his game this year—not that many have noticed. Els left Castle Pines with his old quiet confidence, allowing that "it's always good to have a bit of form going into a major."
In truth he was no less than dazzling at the International, which he basically won over the first two days, when he scored a record 34 points. (In medal play his scores would have been 65-63.) Though Els listed a bit on Saturday, he maintained his eight-point lead over both Mickelson and Norman, and on Sunday he protected his lead expertly and birdied three of the last five holes to seal the win.
Though he is now second on the money list with a career high of more than $3 million, as well as second in the World Ranking, Els knows that history can't be bought. Of the PGA he says, correctly, "It's the last chance to make an impact."
It's now or never for Els and the rest of the veterans who enjoyed their leisurely stay in Colorado. The next generation is impatiently awaiting its turn.