Once lampooned world ranking now a talking point

By Associated PressFebruary 9, 2011, 5:14 am

2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – His vocation was civil engineering. His passion was sports and statistics.

Tony Greer found enough spare time between the two to devise a world ranking for golfers, and it turned into more than a hobby. His system earned the attention of Mark McCormack, the late founder of IMG who had been publishing his own rudimentary rankings in the annual “World of Professional Golf.”

Neither could have imagined how it would shape golf’s growing landscape.

“It’s an exciting time at the moment,” Greer said this week from his home in London.

When he first started to develop a world ranking, Greer said it was far less complicated to sort out the best players in golf.

“You looked at the PGA Tour money list,” he said.

Until the emergence of Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo, then Greg Norman and Bernhard Langer. And while Tiger Woods has dominated the ranking like no other – he has been at No. 1 for 85 percent of his pro career – his recent slump has created opportunity for so many others. And it has put the Official World Golf Ranking at the front of any discussion involving global golf.

Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Woods – Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the world ranking – will be in the same group for the Dubai Desert Classic. It’s the first time since 1994 that a regular European Tour event has had the top three players in the world. On the other side of the world, Phil Mickelson is at Pebble Beach with a chance to move ahead of Woods for the first time since the 1997 Masters.

At both tournaments, players will be jockeying to finish among the top 64 and qualify for the $8 million Match Play Championship in two weeks.

You can count on some controversy. That hasn’t changed. Questions about the mechanics and methodology of the world ranking will never go away. There is no system to accurately compare the strength of tours around the world.

“How do you know that I’m No. 198, and some guy from Zimbabwe is No. 199?” said Paul Goydos.

For those who don’t like the ranking, they better get used to it.

Paul Azinger once said the only things that ever made him choke were cash or prestige. He never said anything about ranking points.

But that’s the direction golf is going.

The U.S. Golf Association’s decision last week to eliminate the money list as a criteria for getting into the U.S. Open was only the latest step in giving the world ranking more importance, if not credibility.

The U.S. Open still puts as much emphasis on “United States” as it does on “Open.” It is sensitive to where the major is played, and it strives to keep half of its 156-man field open to qualifiers. But it also wants to be the strongest test for a major, inviting the best from around the world. The USGA ultimately decided what McCormack learned years ago – money might not be the best barometer anymore.

That’s why starting next year, it will swap out money lists from four tours with the top 60 in the world ranking.

“We’re more comfortable with that than we are trying to figure out internally how we judge various tours around the world,” said Mike Davis, the senior director of rules and competition. “Virtually everybody will admit that any ranking system is never going to be perfect. But we think it’s more equitable than what we do.”

The knock on McCormack and his initial idea for a world ranking was that he was only trying to promote his clients at IMG. The rebuttal was that IMG had most of the best players, anyway.

“He was always a bit of a statistical buff,” Alastair Johnson said. “For a long time in his annual, he compiled a world money list. That spawned the ranking, as it became clear a money list was distorted by the value of the dollar and obviously, the overwhelming focus on the U.S. tour and the size of its prize money. That made everything else in the world somewhat irrelevant as far as performance on the golf course.”

There have been some critical junctions for the world ranking, none more than when the Royal & Ancient became the first to use it to help determine the field for the British Open.

Five major tours around the world, along with four major championships, endorsed the world ranking at a meeting in Turnberry in 1997. A year later, the U.S. Open created a new exemption for the top 20 in the world. And then came Augusta National a year after that, doing away with its U.S. PGA Tour winners exemption (since restored) in favor of the top 50 in the world.

“It wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without the R&A endorsing it,” Johnson said. “It wouldn’t have been born. And with the Masters, that’s what I would call absolute icing on the cake.”

The latest development to elevate interest in the ranking is Woods.

He has gone nearly 15 months without winning, paving the way for Westwood to reach the top. But so many other players are lined up behind the Englishman that as many as a dozen have a chance at No. 1 this year.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.