21-year-old Jordan Spieth drove himself into golf history Sunday, winning the Masters with a final score of 18 under par. Spieth tied Tiger Woods for the best tournament total and became the second 21-year-old to win the event, following Woods’ 1997 performance.
Spieth’s stellar performance at such a young age raises the question of whether golfers are tending toward the younger side. According to the Golf Channel, the answer is no: The median and mean age of major champions has remained stable for decades at 32 years of age. Spieth’s win doesn’t change that magic number, but it does fall nicely into a trend of Masters winners’ ages rising and falling, as shown in the chart above.
Some observers attribute the periodic trends to repeat-champions in different generations in golf history. Jack Nicklaus, for example, has the most Masters victories, with five between 1963 and 1975 — and a sixth in 1986. Four-time champions include Arnold Palmer (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964) and Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005).
Though age might not be changing among Masters winners, the champions do seem to be getting better. Masters winners’ final scores have trended upwards since the first tournaments in the 1930s, with over half of the 10-under-par totals being scored by champions in the last 20 years: