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NEVER TOO OLD

I've heard it too often. "It's a young man's game," they say time and time again. Okay, so the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson have the lion's share of the media everytime they tee it up, but I'd be careful not to write off the old guys.

Mickelson showed that he is far from done with his career. At 41 (he turns 42 in June this year), he is still kicking butt - Tiger's in particular, as Lefty showed at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. His 64 that day was phenomenal given that no one contending that weekend came even close. Even if he gave Tiger 5 shots on either side, he would still have beaten him. No one would ever mistake Mickeson for a gym rat, or a health-freak, but obviously, he still has the game - and the physical wherewithall - to keep up with the best in the game, no matter how old they are.

Across the Atlantic that same weekend, and in the more meteorologically challenged England, Thierry Henry turned back time to leap athletically between two defenders to side-foot the ball into a Sunderland net. I could practically here Wenge cheering from my living room here in Singapore. Henry has scored three goals in about half a dozen games for Arsenal as a substitute these last couple of months. That's about the same number that Fernando Torres has scored the entire time he's been with Chelsea. Henry is 34 years of age, probably too old in today's lightning-quick, physically daunting English Premier League. But the Frenchman continues to prove that age is just a number, and like a stoic Bordeaux, some things get better with it.

Mickelson and Henry showed that weekend, that there is more to the game than hitting the ball far and fast. Experience, and timing, count for as much in both golf and football. Combining that with experience, and the will to win, and you have a concoction that can match the zest of youth.

I can't help but feel that technology has also played a part in maintaining the prolonged careers of aging athletes, especially in golf. Equipment of today helps the player reach the same distances without exerting more effort (and thus, preventing injury). How many times have we heard Champion Tour players say that they probably drive the ball further now than when they began playing golf professionally? Advances in medicine, physiotherapy, and fitness definitely makes for stronger athletes who can compete at a high level late into their lives (and recover quicker from injuries). Tiger Woods' knee travails would probably have meant the end of a golfer's career two decades ago, but he is back playing pretty solid golf after just a year out of the game. His mental acumen, of course, is another story.

 

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