Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for tournament golf at large . . .
Who needs the Americans anyway?
After all the fuss over top Europeans skipping The Players Championship, the tables are turned this week.
With no notable Americans outside of John Daly teeing it up in the European Tour’s flagship event, how much right do Europeans have to make a fuss?
Even without a strong American presence, seven of the top nine players in the world rankings are scheduled to play the BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club in England.
Lee Westwood is playing with his No. 1 world ranking up for grabs.
It really feels like the European Tour doesn’t need any Americans there this week. The Euros are billing the event as the “World Rankings Shootout.” England’s Westwood and Luke Donald and Germany’s Martin Kaymer all have a chance to end the week as No. 1. No American could claim the top spot even if they were all there this week.
Without Tiger Woods at his best, does it matter what Americans aren’t there?
You could make the argument Americans interested in proving they are the best players in the world need to beat the Europeans on their soil more than Europeans need to beat the Americans here. The Euros are proving their dominance here. All four reigning major championship winners are Europeans or European Tour members, and they’re all teeing it up at Wentworth this week.
How does the overall strength of European Tour events compare to PGA Tour events so far this season?
The BMW PGA Championship will award a lot more world-ranking points this week than the Byron Nelson Championship.
It’s the second week in a row a European Tour winner will garner more world-ranking points than the PGA Tour winner.
Ian Poulter claimed 52 points winning last week’s Volvo World Match Play Championship with David Toms claiming 46 as winner of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Overall, however, the PGA Tour still doles out the lion’s share of world-ranking points.
This week marks the 17th time PGA Tour and European Tour events have gone head to head this year. The European Tour winner’s garnered more world-ranking points in just five of those weeks.
Throwing out the majors and World Golf Championships, eight of the 11 events that have awarded the most overall world-ranking points this year are PGA Tour events. (This week’s BMW PGA point value isn’t finalized yet and isn’t included in this listing.):
1 – The Players Championship (PGA Tour) 790
2 – Northern Trust Open (PGA Tour) 513
3 – Arnold Palmer Invitational (PGA Tour) 454
4 – Wells Fargo Championship (PGA Tour) 445
5 – Abu Dhabi Championship (European Tour) 431
6 – Honda Classic (PGA Tour) 403
7 – Transitions Championship (PGA Tour) 358
8 – Shell Houston Open (PGA Tour) 352
9 – Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (European Tour) 338
T-10 – The Heritage (PGA Tour) 320
T-10 – Omega Dubai Masters (European Tour) 320
Who’s going to win the 'World Rankings Shootout' at Wentworth Club?
There’s a three-man tournament within this week’s BMW PGA Championship with Westwood, Donald and Kaymer battling for the No. 1 world ranking, according to world-ranking scenarios laid out on the European Tour’s website.
Kaymer needs to win or finish second with no more than one player to have a chance to take back the top spot. He will ascend with a victory as long as Westwood or Donald do not finish second.
If Kaymer’s out of that scenario, all Westwood has to do to hold onto his top ranking is finish ahead of Donald this week, as long as Westwood finishes among the top 56 (that’s how many places earn world-ranking points).
Thanks to the magic of world-ranking math, it gets odd for Donald, who will ascend to the top spot by finishing ahead of Westwood this week, as long as Donald finishes among the top 56 and Kaymer isn’t among the top two. With Kaymer out of the picture, if Westwood and Donald are tied among the top 45 finishers, Westwood holds onto his No. 1 ranking. If Donald and Westwood tie between 45th and 56th place, Donald ascends. If neither earns any points, Donald ascends, meaning Donald could miss the cut and still become No. 1.
What happens to a legend’s pride and joy when the legend dies?
Byron Nelson was there to greet Brett Wetterich when Wetterich won the Byron Nelson Championship in 2006.
It was Nelson’s last appearance at his tournament before his death later that year.
Six of the top-10 players in the world rankings played in ‘06.
Since Nelson’s death, the field’s weakened considerably. Matt Kuchar is the lone player among the top 10 in the world competing this week. A year ago, there wasn’t a single player among the top 10 in the field. Hunter Mahan was the highest-ranked player at No. 17 in the world.
That’s not to say this isn’t an event worth watching. On the contrary, with Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, K.J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini and defending champion Jason Day in the field, there are lot of potentially good storylines that could emerge.
Does Suzann Pettersen have a new favorite number?
Pettersen had a run of six second-place finishes between her Sybase Match Play Championship victory Sunday and her last title prior to that in ’09.
Now that she’s won, she’s climbed back into another No. 2 spot, this one in the world rankings behind Yani Tseng.
A major championship winner with 11 LPGA and Ladies European Tour titles, Pettersen’s arguably the best player who hasn’t been No. 1 in the women’s game.
With a run of three majors in the next six official LPGA events, it’s a good time for the Norwegian to get hot. She says she feels comfortable with a new putting stroke more about feel than technical elements, and that’s the best sign yet she’s ready to move up. A hot putter’s about all Pettersen needs to move ahead of every other player in the game.
Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMellGC