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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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.