Masters field full of young guns

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, April 7, 2011

AUGUSTA---You almost need a program to keep up with the players at the Masters this year. There's a whole new generation of golfers going for a green jacket. A bunch of young golfers are making their mark, including the #1 player in the world.

Martin Kaymer may be the least-known top-ranked golfer in the world, but he represents a change in the air at the National.

After years of following the famous--Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Woods, and Mickelson--golf fans have some homework to do. A whole new generation has earned the right to play in Augusta, and they're here to stay.

That means Masters patrons who are puzzled by the names on their pairing sheet have their work cut out for them. Caddies can offer a clue, but then you have to put the name with a face.

"Is it him?" one woman asked, glancing from her program to a golfer.

But most people here agree that's a good thing.

"It's true! Yes, there are a lot of new names," said Claudia Rovens of Wisconsin. "Isn't it wonderful?"

"Hey, wouldn't it be nice if there was a whole new generation of golfers who are starting out at 14, 15, 16, and these are their heroes, and they're going to be the Palmers, Nicklauses, and Trevenos of 20 years from now?" said Larry Roven.

Back under the oak tree, behind the clubhouse, David Leadbetter is counting on it. Leadbetter makes it his business to teach the next generation.

"Well, there's a whole cadre of young players out there now, from all over the world, who are vying for the #1 spot," Leadbetter said. "You're going to see some players this week who you've probably never heard of, and are not well known, but certainly probably will be in the future."

And I'll have to agree with Leadbetter on that. Once you slip on a green jacket, people won't have to read your name on the back of a caddie to know who you are.

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