Listing To Star Boards
Lists of best courses. Lists of best equipment. List of best golf resorts. Lists of best golf tournaments.
Best golf books. Best golf movies. Et cetera. Et cetera.
Then there are statistical lists.
For the longest time the list I looked at first was always the PGA Tour money list. Not any more. Not for a long time now. Ben Hogan was the PGA Tours leading money winner in 1948 with a whopping, year-end total of $32,112. Right now Rory Sabbatini is No. 1 on the current PGA Tour money list'just two months into the season'with $2,219,294.
This is clearly apples and oranges. And these kinds of anachronistic comparisons, no matter what branch you hang them on, bear nothing but rotten fruit. Besides, the PGA Tour money list is predictable. Tiger Woods, Ill wager, will be No. 1 on this list by mid-April, if not sooner.
The PGA Tour money list fully engages me now only in October when the so-called quest for the card is in full bloom.
There are at least three golf statistical lists that get my attention more immediately these days. They are, in no particular order, the American Ryder Cup standings; the Official World Golf Ranking and the brand-new Rolex Rankings for Women.
Lets start with the last one first. The Rolex rankings came out last week and ignited a firestorm of controversy because 16-year-old Michelle Wie was No. 3 and has never won a professional event.
Then Wie went out Saturday and finished third at an LPGA event in Hawaii. And for that the Rolex computer, in its infinite byte-size wisdom, bumped her up to No. 2.
Needless to say the debate continues to rage over the legitimacy of the Rolex rankings. And that wont go away any time soon. Maybe the buzz is a good thing. People are talking, even more, about womens golf.
Oh, and one more thing, for those of you who insist that Wie must have some kind of deal with Rolex, forget about it. She endorses Omega watches.
The American Ryder Cup points list is most compelling at the moment because the American captain, Tom Lehman, sits at the No. 10 spot. Lehman has said if he makes the team and he is playing well, he will participate in the matches. Too many people have their undies in a bunch over this. They think the concept of a playing captain is heresy.
I say let Lehman lead his troops into battle. Let him play the first match on the first day. Something to be said for valor, courage, bravery and all that. To be sure, this is golf not war. And captaining is, in the end, about making a list. It is not the science of rocketry. But, hey Tom, go for it.
Lehman has said he wont play if his game isnt sharp when the Ryder Cup rolls around in September. Even if he makes the team. Instead, he says, he will give up his spot to the No. 11 man on the list. But what if No. 11 is playing poorly at that time?
He cant go to No. 12. Thats against the rules. This scenario is one Lehman has to hope wont come to be.
Finally, the mens world rankings. I note that Woods, unseated by Vijay Singh in 2004 at the top of the list has now moved back into position with almost double the total of No. 2 Singh.
Geoff Ogilvy won the match play and moved up to No. 26 from a spot closer to 60th. David Howell has now passed Luke Donald as the low Englishman at No. 13. Nick OHern, you might be surprised to know, is the No. 2 ranked Australian in the world. Jesper Parnevik has slipped to No. 72. Theres always something noteworthy on that list if youre willing to look hard enough.
Incidentally, the Sagarin Golfweek world rankings are always worth a look, too. I dont always agree with their current numbers'Luke Donald was No. 4 going into the Match Play. But the Sagarin numbers can be pretty good predictors. Ogilvy ranked 16th BEFORE he won at LaCosta last week.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.