World Rankings aside PGA Tour still tops the list

By Associated PressMarch 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' The tears of Y.E. Yang carried a powerful message about the strength of American golf.
Golf was just a game until the final hour of the final round, when the son of South Korean vegetable farmers moved closer to his first PGA Tour victory. Two putts and 50 feet away from winning the Honda Classic, he lagged his first putt close to the hole, pumped his fist, then collected himself before tapping in for par.
Yang hugged everyone he could find, then ran along the green to slap hands with the gallery. The celebration turned poignant when Yang embraced his agent, Michael Yim, and wept with joy.
The biggest win of my career, he said. It definitely takes over the HSBC Champions win in 2006.
That was no ordinary win Yang was talking about, either. That was a two-shot victory in Shanghai over Tiger Woods, the first time in four months that someone had beaten Woods in stroke play.
What made his one-shot victory over John Rollins in the Honda Classic more meaningful was where it took place.
Yang wanted this win on the PGA Tour very badly, Yim said Monday on his way to Doral. He told me, You have to win here to prove youre one of the top players in the world.
Thats worth remembering as the discussion of global domination in golf warms up this week in Miami.
The United States is no longer the majority in the World Golf Championships, at least not compared with the rest of the world.
There were a record-low 17 Americans at the Accenture Match Play Championship, slightly more than one-fourth of the 64-man field. That pales compared with the 40 Americans at Match Play when it began in 1999.
Two weeks later, there are 27 players in the 80-man field at Doral.
U.S. occupation of the world ranking ' a major criteria to get into these WGC events ' isnt what it used to be.
When the world ranking began in 1986, there were 31 Americans among the top 50. Now there are only 14, while Europe has the most of any continent with 17 players.
But does that signal a shift in power?
Not necessarily.
Maybe the reason there are fewer Americans in the top 50 is because so few Americans play outside the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour ' by far' is the best tour in the world, Anthony Kim said Tuesday. Everyone knows that. The world ranking is skewed toward Europe and Asia. No disrespect to those tours, but the 70th and 80th guys on our tour are really good. If they would go overseas more, they would have more success than some of the guys ranked ahead of them.
Few would argue that the PGA Tour has the strongest and deepest fields.
It is rewarded by receiving more ranking points than Europe over the course of the year, and far more than the South African, Japan, Asian and Australasian tours. But points become a pittance the lower the finish, and some events dont award anything outside the top 40.
So consider the following players:
  • Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand has finished in the top 40 about 74 percent of the time over the last two years. Marksaeng, who primarily plays in Asia, is No. 55 in the world ranking.
  • D.J. Trahan plays exclusively on the PGA Tour and is in the top 40 only 48 percent of the time. Trahan won the Bob Hope Classic last year, tied for fourth in the U.S. Open and had two top 10s this year. He is ranked No. 65 and did not qualify for Match Play.
  • Soren Hansen of Denmark is No. 59 in the world. He has finished in the top 40 two-thirds of the time over the last two years, but the breakdown is revealing ' 17 percent of the time in his 12 PGA Tour-sanctioned events, 81 percent of the time around the world.
    Some people still cant figure out how Brendan Jones could get the No. 64 seed at Match Play. Jones couldnt keep his card on the PGA Tour, and he hasnt won in the last year while playing almost entirely in Japan. Then again, he has finished in the top 40 in nine out of 10 tournaments that he plays.
    No one will ever be happy with the world ranking because it cant possibly satisfy everyone. Its goal is to measure performance over two years across six tours, awarding higher points to the tournaments that have the highest-ranked players. Comparing tours each week is almost as impossible as comparing generations. For the most part, the world ranking does a good job.
    The balance of power in golf has not shifted as much as it has dispersed.
    True, there are only 27 Americans at Doral. But to keep score as is done in the Olympics, the Americans outnumber players from the next three countries combined behind them ' South Africa (10), England (8) and Australia (6).
    There can be arguments about any player in the world ranking, except at the top.
    Gareth Mabyin of Northern Ireland is at No. 90 in the world. He had one victory last year on Europes Challenge Tour, and lost in a playoff in the South African Open. Three spots behind him is Brian Gay, who finished 31st on the PGA Tour money list.
    It can be maddening.
    But remember this: The goal of just about every player is to win on the PGA Tour, where the Americans now share the stage with top players from every corner of the globe.
    And remember the tears of Yang when he won for the first time in America by outlasting Rollins.
    He didnt show that much emotion when he beat Woods.
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.