Prof gives in order the youngest and oldest major tournament winners of the open era — e.g. Michael Chang was the youngest winner at age 17, in 1989, at Roland Garros, and Ken Rosewall the oldest, at age 37, in 1972, at the Australian.

I list the top 25 youngest and top 25 oldest below, along with my assignment of "E" (Eastern) or "W" (Western).

Of the 25 youngest winners, 12, by my count, use a Western grip.

Of the 25 oldest, only four use a Western grip –and all four are Andre Agassi, and I think that's generous, since I would argue that his grip, toward the end of his career, may have been more Eastern than the average player's.

So apart from the borderline case of Agassi, none of the oldest 25 winners used a Western grip, while 12 of the 25 youngest winners did. This supports the Chair's prediction that Nadal doesn't have many more years to go at the highest level.

25 youngest major tournament winners:
1    Michael Chang    1989    Roland Garros    17y 3m 20d E
2    Boris Becker    1985    Wimbledon    17y 7m 15d E
3    Mats Wilander    1982    Roland Garros    17y 9m 15d E
4    Bjorn Borg    1974    Roland Garros    18y 0m 10d W
5    Boris Becker    1986    Wimbledon    18y 7m 14d E
6    Rafael Nadal    2005    Roland Garros    19y 0m 2d W
7    Bjorn Borg    1975    Roland Garros    19y 0m 9d W
8    Pete Sampras    1990    US Open    19y 0m 28d E
9    Mats Wilander    1983    Australian    19y 3m 19d E
10    Stefan Edberg    1985    Australian    19y 10m 19d E
11    Rafael Nadal    2006    Roland Garros    20y 0m 8d W
12    Bjorn Borg    1976    Wimbledon    20y 0m 27d W
13    Mats Wilander    1984    Australian    20y 3m 17d E
14    Lleyton Hewitt    2001    US Open    20y 6m 16d W
15    John McEnroe    1979    US Open    20y 6m 24d E
16    Marat Safin    2000    US Open    20y 7m 14d W
17    Gustavo Kuerten    1997    Roland Garros    20y 8m 29d W
18    Mats Wilander    1985    Roland Garros    20y 9m 18d E
19    Jim Courier    1991    Roland Garros    20y 9m 23d W
20    Stefan Edberg    1987    Australian    21y 0m 6d E
21    Rafael Nadal    2007    Roland Garros    21y 0m 7d W
22    Andy Roddick    2003    US Open    21y 0m 8d W
23    Bjorn Borg    1977    Wimbledon    21y 0m 26d W
24    Jimmy Connors    1974    Australian    21y 3m 30d E
25    Lleyton Hewitt    2002    Wimbledon    21y 4m 13d W

25 oldest major tournament winners
1    Ken Rosewall    1972    Australian    37y 2m 1d E
2    Ken Rosewall    1971    Australian    36y 2m 12d E
3    Ken Rosewall    1970    US Open    35y 10m 11d E
4    Andres Gimeno    1972    Roland Garros    34y 10m 1d E
5    Ken Rosewall    1968    Roland Garros    33y 7m 7d E
6    Andre Agassi    2003    Australian    32y 8m 28d W
7    Arthur Ashe    1975    Wimbledon    31y 11m 25d E
8    Rod Laver    1969    US Open    31y 1m 0d E
9    Pete Sampras    2002    US Open    31y 0m 27d E
10    Jimmy Connors    1983    US Open    31y 0m 9d E
11    Rod Laver    1969    Wimbledon    30y 10m 26d E
12    Rod Laver    1969    Roland Garros    30y 9m 30d E
13    Andre Agassi    2001    Australian    30y 8m 30d W
14    John Newcombe    1975    Australian    30y 7m 9d E
15    Rod Laver    1969    Australian    30y 5m 18d E
16    Andres Gomez    1990    Roland Garros    30y 3m 14d E
17    Jimmy Connors    1982    US Open    30y 0m 10d E
18    Petr Korda    1998    Australian    30y 0m 9d E
19    Rod Laver    1968    Wimbledon    29y 10m 27d E
20    Ivan Lendl    1990    Australian    29y 10m 21d E
21    Jimmy Connors    1982    Wimbledon    29y 10m 2d E
22    Goran Ivanisevic    2001    Wimbledon    29y 9m 26d E
23    Andre Agassi    2000    Australian    29y 9m 1d W
24    Andre Agassi    1999    US Open    29y 4m 14d W
25    John Newcombe    1973    US Open    29y 3m 17d E





Speak your mind

4 Comments so far

  1. Steve Leslie on September 24, 2009 9:14 am

    Outstanding research Professor now only two remaining questions

    How does this hold against female competitors with respect to Major Championships. If one were to research the top 25 women youngest to oldest eastern to western would we see the same trends.

    Last question. What do we do with this information other than it is fun to know.

    Last comment. Many years ago, golf instructors would teach their students the reverse "C" which put extreme stress on the golfers back. Johnny Miller "the desert fox" is a great example of this method. He was a great success story in his day. Should you see him hit a golf ball today, it looks nothing like he did in his 20's This has been largely abandoned and I can not think of any golfer who now finishes with a reverse "C" formation other than Colin Montgomery. Now one finds either sweepers or strikers of the ball. Greg Norman was a sweeper and Lee Trevino a striker. Tiger Woods is a hybrid of a violent striker and a bit of a sweeper, and early on in his career some suggested his body would not withstand the grind for a long and successful career. 13 years later, he is still winning more tournaments than anyone anywhere. Conclusions other than he keeps himself in great physical shape. I can not come up with any. Of course he could also be a phenomenon that only comes along every 100 years or more.

  2. Craig on September 25, 2009 8:41 am

    A firm left arm is one thing that Tiger, Nicklaus and Hogan have in common. Tiger and Nicklaus really swing with their shoulders, so the hands are just along for the ride. You even see this in Tiger's putting. I caddied a few times in the NFL pro-am out in NJ and mentioned this to Tom Wargo. He got very animated and said "that's exactly it." It was great to see his passion about figuring out the sport after so many years of playing. Don January agreed. Those guys still hit the ball as well as ever in their late years of playing. Swinging with hands and wrists seems to break down easier under pressure or as we age. To me, Tiger's swing isn't as good as it was in his first Masters win or even when he first played there as an amateur as he's fiddled with it so much, but he's kept the firm left arm. He didn't used to lose the ball out to the right. Hogan and Nicklaus kept the same swing and Tiger probably had an even better swing.

  3. Alfonso Sammassimo on September 26, 2009 6:01 am

    Points are well made re grip and longevity, and you will nurture good all round games which are made to last with this approach. But some people are built to do things differently, and they might not otherwise excel without choosing a path or technique which suits them uniquely. Sometimes the ability to do something unconventional and do it great is what can stand you out from the pack. Were Nadal to choose an eastern grip early in his career, well , he might just be a nobody today. But he didnt, and he is not. Does one sacrifice excellence for longevity?

  4. Steve Leslie on September 26, 2009 1:42 pm

    Interesting observation on firm left arm. Norman was a great driver and a great putter. He was a sweeper and an upright putter. Ray Floyd was very upright putter and another great putter. Tom Watson has played with his putting so much that i don;t think he would even be able to tell you what he is. Furyk and Pavin are definitely wristy as is Zoeller. Ballesteros was all wrists and a lot of moving parts. When his techniques broke down he lost everything he did not know where the ball was going. Stadler has to be a striker because he is just way too fat. Duval is a mystery. I think his confusion is due to losing so much weight and thus changing his swing plane.

    Conclusions. I leave it up to the reader. Each style has its benefit and drawbacks. but in the end, the golfer must do what he or she finds most comfortable and work within their own particular body framework.


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