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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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm