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).


By RANDALL MELL

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.


By RYAN LAVNER

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.


By JASON SOBEL

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.


By REX HOGGARD

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.


By WILL GRAY

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.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.