The Imperfect Storm

By Randall MellApril 21, 2011, 11:06 pm

Do you know how long it has been since a player has won a PGA Tour or European Tour event while holding the No. 1 ranking?

Seventy-five weeks.

We haven’t witnessed a world No. 1 win on the PGA Tour or European Tour since Tiger Woods won the J.B. Were Masters on Nov. 15, 2009.

Yes, the J.B. Were Masters is an Australasian Tour event, but it’s also a sanctioned European Tour event.

If you despise the Official World Golf Ranking, you like hearing this. You like hearing that it’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since a player holding the No. 1 ranking has won on the two most important tours on the planet. You like it because it supports your belief that the rankings are too flawed to take seriously.

The funny thing is that we’ve never taken the Official World Golf Ranking more seriously.

Luke Donald
With a win at the Heritage, Luke Donald will become No. 1 in the world. (Getty Images)

The world rankings have never been more vital or intriguing than they are today.

In fact, the world rankings are more vital and more intriguing by virtue of the fact that there isn’t a dominant player in the game right now.

The world rankings bring an added component to the Heritage this week because Luke Donald can jump from No. 3 to No. 1 by winning the event. This will outrage some folks because Donald’s moved into this position winning just twice in the last five years.

That isn't an indictment of the OWGR as much as it is of today’s top players failing to take advantage of the golden opportunity afforded them with Woods slumping.

The Official World Golf Ranking has never been better for the game than it is today.

Wow, can’t believe I wrote that without the benefit of a helmet or flak jacket, knowing how so many despise the system.

I’m not in the camp that believes the OWGR is good for the game just because it’s controversial. I don’t believe it’s good for the game in the same way that the BCS is good for college football, because it gets people talking about the sport, though it serves that purpose pretty well.

I recognize the world rankings are flawed but like the system because I want some standard to compare and measure the world’s best players in the same way that I can measure the standing of my favorite Major League Baseball, NBA or NFL teams. I like having “standings” that live and breathe and change with the week’s action. Of course, the nearly impossible challenge in golf is finding a measurement that compares apples to oranges, that compares Americans, Europeans, Asians, Australians, Africans and whoever plays professionally even when they’re not competing directly against each other.

Yeah, the OWGR is flawed, it’s imperfect, and it can be maddening to understand, but I like it because it works remarkably well given its impossible task.

Why do I believe that? Because so few tour pros complain about it.

Sadly, that is my best defense of the rankings. There’s almost no outrage among players. If the system were that flawed, that unjust, wouldn’t we hear more players pointing out the inequities? Players complain about everything. Greens, sand in bunkers, rental cars. If there was something fundamentally wrong with today’s world rankings, we’d hear it ad nauseam.

While there are players who dislike the OWGR, a staggeringly large number of them think it works pretty well.

Hey, you might quibble over who should be No. 1 and who should be No. 10 or No. 50, but the system does a surprisingly good job identifying the best grouping of players. Generally, the system gives us a fairly legitimate top 10 and top 50.

I concede the largest problem is on that top-50 bubble, or whatever bubble’s being used to qualify players for majors and world championships.

And I get Paul Azinger’s complaint that players should understand exactly how they’re qualifying for big events. There are quirks in the way a player can sit out a week and move up in the world rankings. Azinger’s best criticism of the world rankings is that players should know what they’re choking for. They should know if they miss this 10-foot putt, it will cost them a title or the $100,000 they need to move up the money list. Nobody’s really sure how many ranking points he’s losing missing a 10-foot putt.

The OWGR is like the weather, though. Everyone likes to complain about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Nobody’s offering a system that comes close to being better.

A column like this will incite numerous complaints about injustices in the system, but few, if any, realistic solutions that specifically show how that new system would more accurately measure players from around the world.

Until somebody can show me a better plan with fewer imperfections, I’m liking that we have the OWGR.


Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.