Golf is entering a new era. The ancient game -- no, not Halo -- is being overrun by players steeped in Hannah Montana history.
Last weekend, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa shot 58 on the Japan Tour. Rory McIlroy, two days shy of his 21st birthday, shot 62 to win the Quail Hollow Championship. And Thursday, Matteo Manassero, who just turned 17, will make his pro debut at the BMW Italian Open.
You have to wonder, among other things: Who's going to pay for the insurance if Manessero wins the BMW?
Also, it just so happens that this major influx of youth occurred on a weekend that Tiger Woods was missing the cut.
McIlroy has drawn comparisons to Woods over the last couple of years. A winner in Europe, his Quail Hollow win was the Northern Irishman's coming out party in the United States.
With Woods stepping to the side, McIlroy became the youngest Tour winner since Woods in 1996. And the performance was just as awe inspiring.
McIlroy made child's play out of the difficult layout. His 10-under final round, the course record, was four shots better than the next lowest. He made 3s on the final six holes.
"Rory played an incredible round," said Phil Mickelson, Quail Hollow runner-up. "As we go back to Pebble Beach this summer, it reminds me of the best performance I've ever seen, which was Tiger in the U.S. Open there in 2000."
Ishikawa's 12-under 58 is the lowest score ever counted on a major pro tour. Shigeki Maruyama shot 58 in a U.S. Open qualifier in 2000.
The victory was Ishikawa's seventh on the Japan Tour. He got his first win when he was a 15-year-old amateur in 2007.
Woods sounded like an old man the Player's Championship on Tuesday when asked about today's youngsters. He talked about all the high-tech equipment the whippersnappers had at their disposal.
"I wasn't anywhere near ready to turn pro at age 18 as Rory did," Woods said. "I wasn't good enough. As for his driving, I never hit the ball as far as Rory does. He hits it past me. I shrimp it out there now."
Manassero will have a tough time following McIlroy and Ishikawa. But after winning the British Amateur Championship and making the cut at the Masters, he thinks he's ready.
"I will be nervous when I am on the first tee as I always am, but it won't be any different to amateur tournaments," he said. "I just want to enjoy playing golf and making birdies."
Furyk praises Colonial: The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial has a strong group of loyal players. The classic course is a haven for shotmakers.
Consider Jim Furyk's comment to reporters when asked Tuesday where the Player's Championship would rate in importance.
"I always rank the major championships right up there, and this is the next event in line for me," said Furyk, who lives at the TPC Sawgrass. "And then you've got the World Golf Championships and you've got your Quail Hollows and your big events. Colonial is a big one for me, Memorial is a big one for me -- the ones I really love to play."
Kim's thumb hampers plans: Anthony Kim could miss the DFW swing. He withdrew from the Player's Championship on Tuesday because of a thumb injury he's been fighting since last year.
Kim is in a tough spot trying to decide when to have surgery to reattach the ligament between his index finger and thumb. He's looking at two to three months of rehabilitation.
Kim has his game in top shape with three majors and the Ryder Cup ahead.