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Experience Prevails

LPGA Tour rookie Se Ri Pak, 20, dominated golf headlines in 1998, becoming the youngest woman ever to win two majors in the same season.
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This was supposed to be the year golf's next generation was going to dominate golf's headlines. Well one out of four tours isn't bad. Is it?

There were seven PGA tournaments won by players older than 40 in 1998. Two of the biggest – The Masters and British Open – were won by 41-year-old Mark O'Meara. The oldest golfer to win two majors in the same year, O'Meara led the way in 1998 for the PGA Tour's new experienced look and captured the Player of the Year Award because of it.

And who would have thought that the over-40 crowd would do so well, considering it was without the sport's all-time money leader 43-year-old Greg Norman? Norman played just three tournaments in 1998 before deciding to have season-ending shoulder surgery in April.

David Duval took over for Tiger Woods as the proverbial spokesperson for the younger crowd. Duval, who didn't win his first PGA tournament until October 1997, carded four more victories in 1998, bringing his career total to eight. Woods played well in 1998, finishing in the top five in money and scoring average, but he could not putt well enough to win more than one tournament.

Lee Janzen's comeback from a seven-stroke deficit on Sunday at the U.S. Open stole what could have been another over-40 win for Payne Stewart. While veteran Vijay Singh finally captured his first major – the PGA Championship – in August.

The LPGA was the one tour that had a newcomer steal most of the headlines. Korean native Se Ri Pak set the tour on fire this spring and summer before the world's No. 1-ranked player, Annika Sorenstam came to life and put out some of Pak's flames.

The 21-year-old Pak became the youngest women ever to win two majors in the same year. Her battle against amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn at the U.S. Open was one of the best competitions in all of sports in 1998. After tying the 72-hole tournament the two returned on Monday to play an 18-hole playoff. Still tied, the tournament went to sudden death where Pak won it on the second hole.

Although Pak has the Rookie of the Year award all sewn up, the Player of the Year Award has Sorenstam's name on it. The tour's money leader for the second straight year, Sorenstam won four tournaments and recorded 17 top-10 finishes in 1998. With earnings of more than $1,077,498 already, she becomes the first woman in LPGA Tour history to break the $1 million-mark in consecutive seasons.

When will Hale Irwin come back to Earth? Irwin followed up his nine-win performance on the 1997 Senior Tour with seven victories in 1998. His win at the Senior Tour Championship meant he surpassed the tour's single-season earnings record he set last year, raking in $2.86 million in 1998.

And for the sixth consecutive year Scotland's Colin Montgomerie was the PGA European Tour's leading money winner.

Golf's veterans are not ready to let go of the reigns just yet.


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1997-98 SeasonTournament Results

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