Perils of prodigies who are prematurely praised

A PRETTY obvious hazard for up and comers in sport is the amount of indiscreet attention they receive in newspapers and across the airways. No sooner is a promising career launched than the word is out on another potential world-beater.

The difficulties this can cause in development is perhaps best illustrated by the sad case of Justin Rose who made headlines 12 months ago when finishing fourth in the Open Championship at Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur.

As the professional he became immediately afterwards, Rose has gone from one miserable experience to another, failing to gain a place on the European Tour and missing 21 consecutive cuts in the events that were available to him.

If not enough attention was paid by Rose's advisors to the pitfalls of premature advancement, he wasn't helped by an excessive response to his efforts on the Lancashire coastline.

In Rose's case, the difference a year can make is in a somewhat muted response to his presence at Carnoustie this week, having qualified automatically on the strength of last year's finish. The spotlight has inevitably switched from Rose to others of his generation, especially the gifted Spanish 19- year-old Sergio Garcia who has already made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic.

There is no question at all that Garcia has a superior talent and, from his demeanour, the maturity to withstand the pressure of comparison at a similar age to his great compatriot Severiano Ballesteros.

Of course, nobody who covers sport can afford to ignore the appeal of youthful assertion but there are far too many instances when assessment amounts to overkill. This applied even to Tiger Woods who was thought capable of totally dominating golf for many years to come after winning the Masters in his first professional season.

With 12 tournament victories to his name in three years, Woods is fully established as one of the great modern golfers but to suppose that he would quickly win all four major championships was utter nonsense. The improvement Woods has made can be seen in a more sensible choice of options on the course, but it remains unlikely that he will butcher the records set by Jack Nicklaus.

Going back 10 years, the wunderkind of American golf was supposed to be Robert Gamez, a 19-year-old Las Vegan who won twice in his first year on the US Tour, including a one-shot defeat of Greg Norman in Florida achieved by holing a seven-iron to the final green. Since then, Gamez has been moving bleakly in the opposite direction, falling last year to 195th on the money list and losing his card.

Tim Dalberg, of the Associated Press, a good golfer himself and also a resident of Las Vegas who is here to report this week's proceedings in Scotland, relates Gamez's decline to lack of dedication. "I played with Gamez just before he turned professional," Dalberg said, "and you could see why an immense future was being predicted for him. But it went wrong. Maybe too much too soon. Who knows?" Unfulfilled promise is the oldest story in sport. Here today, gone tomorrow, the burden of ludicrous hyperbole.

When it was suggested towards the end of the last football season that Joe Cole should be included in England's squad, the young West Ham midfielder had yet to start a match in the first team.

Interestingly, golf's major championships are usually won by players in their late thirties. The average is 37. In 1997, three went to players in their twenties: the Masters (Woods), the US Open (Ernie Els) and the Open (Justin Leonard). So far this year, two, the Masters (Jose Maria Olazabal) and the US Open (Payne Stewart) have gone to older contenders.

Perhaps two other emerging talents, Luke Donald and Zane Scotland, will reveal this week the extent of their thrilling potential. "More and more young players are coming through," Tom Watson said on Tuesday night when speaking at the Association of Golf Writers' annual dinner.

The last winner here, Watson, has seen it all. Including careers that collapsed for want of time in which to develop.

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil