Punch Shot: How long will Woods remain No. 1?

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 26, 2013, 2:42 pm

By winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Tiger Woods regained the No. 1 world ranking for the first time since 2010. Woods had held the world's top spot on 10 previous occasions for a total of 623 weeks, including a record 281-week run from June 12, 2005, to Oct. 30, 2010. Now the question is, how long will this run last? Our writers weigh in. (Click for 'Morning Drive' discussion).


As long as Tiger wants to be No. 1.

How's that?

More than anything, his return to No. 1 is about his will and resolve. Yes, his swing matters. Yes, his putting mechanics matter. They're both trumped, though, by his determination to work his way through all the doubt and uncertainty that was piled up in front of him. And it couldn't all have been heaped there from the outside. There had to be a reckoning within, a determination to overcome his own doubts and disappointments. His unshakable belief that this was possible again is something to admire. He willed and worked himself back to No. 1.


This reign could last a while. Not for 623 more weeks, mind you. But a while. How about late 2014?

Sure, Rory McIlroy could take back the title this week in Houston, but it would be surprising, if only because of his 8 1/2 competitive rounds this season, 7 1/2 have been unspectacular. I’m not back on the bandwagon just yet.

But it’s impossible to watch Tiger this season and not be impressed. He has consistency off the tee. His irons and wedges have improved. He’s holing 10- to 20-footers again.

With three wins already this season, it would surprise little if he doubled that haul and added in a major, too. Rory will be back in form by summer, at the latest, but Tiger’s momentum should be enough to keep him at No. 1 through the end of the season. And then his early-2014 schedule consists of Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill. Want to pick against him there, too?

Settle in, folks. Tiger is No. 1 again, and he could be there for a while.


In what has been one of the most interesting and entertaining three-month stretches to start a PGA Tour season in recent memory, the ride continues this week as Tiger Woods will lose his No. 1 ranking after just six days.

There's only one possible scenario which could make that happen – a victory from Rory McIlroy to regain the honor.

While many observers still have McIlroy's second-round walk-off at the Honda Classic fresh in their minds, let's remember that he posted a final-round 65 in his most recent start at Doral. He'll be coming to Houston this week with something to prove, on a course which should suit his game.

Now don't get me wrong. Even though I'm picking Rory to pick off Tiger this week, I still think the latter is the world's best golfer at the moment and will retain the ranking over the long haul.

In a season with a multitude of twists and turns already, though, a win by McIlroy this week would create a terrific subplot heading to Augusta.


After landmark victories at old haunts this season (Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill) it would seem Tiger Woods has once again entrenched himself atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

How long will Woods stay there? The easy answer is as long as he wants.

But that logic ignores the competitive reality of the current landscape, and a left knee that although is currently capable, has a history of upending the script and leaving the status quo in shambles.

Woods is an old 37, slowed in recent years by multiple knee surgeries and an Achilles’ tendon ailment. The delicate truth for any professional athlete is that they are one awkward swing, a single misplayed layup, an untimely twisted ankle away from chaos.

Woods’ current crop of challengers, specifically former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, also seems more capable of answering the call, although that remains to be seen.

This season’s Grand Slam lineup could also shorten Woods’ reign atop the world order. Merion Golf Club (U.S. Open) and Muirfield (British Open) are not the sprawling ballparks where Woods has dominated in the past, which will open the door to a larger list of potential champions and expose him to the whims of the world ranking arithmetic.

Woods’ climb back to world No. 1 has been impressive; just don’t expect him to stay there through Labor Day.


The golf world needs to reacquaint itself with the concept of Tiger Woods atop the Official World Golf Rankings, because it’s not changing anytime soon. In fact, an understanding of how the rankings system works shows that even if Woods doesn’t continue his winning ways in the coming weeks and months, his grip on the top spot will likely only increase.

The OWGR measures performance on a two-year cycle. So while Rory McIlroy will soon see the points he accrued with his win at the 2011 U.S. Open cycle off, Woods has no significant finishes that will soon drop from his ledger – recall that he spent much of the summer of 2011 on the sideline, and his return that August was less than impressive. So assuming that he maintains his current form, playing well if not continuing to win, his OWGR profile to start the 2014 season (before the points from his 2012 wins begin to expire) will likely be nothing short of formidable.

This is all to say that I expect Woods to remain No. 1 for the foreseeable future. A major win this year appears likely at this point, and a quick look at the 2014 major venues – Augusta, Pinehurst, Royal Liverpool and Valhalla – reveals a rotation of courses upon which Woods has experienced an incredible level of success. To wager a guess, I would say he retains the top ranking until early in the 2015 season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Woods celebrates his 40th birthday in December 2015 with his top ranking still intact.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.