Rank and rile: Should Ko really be No. 1?

By Randall MellFebruary 5, 2015, 3:17 am

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Does Lydia Ko really deserve the No. 1 ranking in the world?

With Ko’s ascendance this week in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, there’s quite the buzz over her arrival for Thursday’s start of the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. At 17, she’s bringing worldwide attention to the women’s game as the youngest No. 1 in the history of professional golf. She’s also turning player attention more intensely to the world rankings and whether her ascendance exposes some unfair calculation in its formula.

To be clear, Ko has won immense respect from the player and caddie ranks in her short time as a tour member. She’s also very well liked. The discussion percolating on the practice range here over Ko’s No. 1 ranking isn’t a personal attack in its nature. It also isn’t about whether Ko is good enough to be No. 1. It’s about the world rankings formula and whether she has done enough yet to deserve the top ranking.

Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic: Articles, videos and photos

As one player offered up, it isn’t Ko’s fault the formula favors her.

But ...

In the two-year rolling window that the Rolex rankings measure:

• Inbee Park has won 10 times around the world, four of those victories major championships.

• Stacy Lewis has won six times, one of those a major championship.

• Ko has won five times, none of them a major championship.

When you look at the body of work laid out that way, you see why Ko’s No. 1 ranking raises questions.

What advantage does Ko have that isn’t evident in that body of work? It’s Ko’s average finishes being so far above everyone else’s average.

The Rolex rankings, like the Official World Golf Ranking for the men, award points to a player based on her finish in a tournament. The points fluctuate week to week based on strength of field with points weighted more in the last year and especially in the last 13 weeks. The major championships award 1,200 points, more than other events. This week’s Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will award 627 points.

A player’s point total is divided by the number of tournaments played within the two-year window. There’s a minimum divisor of 35.

Ko has accumulated 417.2 points in 43 tournaments. That makes her average 9.70.

Park has accumulated 532.11 points in 55 tournaments. That makes her average 9.67.

Lewis has accumulated 494.23 points in 56 tournaments. That makes her average 8.83.

Nobody has fewer tournaments as their divisor among the top 30 in the world than Ko does, but it should be noted Hall of Famer Karrie Webb also has 43 starts, same as Ko. Webb is No. 9 in the world rankings.

Asked Wednesday about Ko passing her in the rankings, Park did not complain, but she said she wasn’t surprised because of the math she knew was in play.

“She hasn’t played that many events, not as many as Stacy or me,” Park said. “So, her averages are a little bit different to us. I thought, at some point, if she keeps playing that consistent, she’s going to take over No. 1. And, yeah, it came pretty quick.”

While Ko is honored to carry the No. 1 ranking, she arrived this week trying to adjust to her new status and all the demands that come with it.

“I’m just trying to go back to my normal routine,” Ko said.

As Ko is discovering, that’s a challenge when you carry the No. 1 ranking. She made that comment from the Pure Silk Bahamas media center while on a teleconference with international media, a call set up because she is the new world No. 1.

“I’m very proud to be in that position, but at the same time, I’m trying to just kind of block it out and just be like another golfer, being on the course and just enjoying my time out here,” Ko said.

That’s a challenge, too. After news hit that Ko had become No. 1, she received congratulatory messages that would make your average 17-year-old’s head spin. Pop star Lorde, whose song “Royals” topped Billboard’s Hot 100, sent her a congratulatory tweet.

“I was like `Oh my God,’ because I’m a huge fan of hers,” Ko said. “That somebody of that status would give me a tweet like that is pretty awesome.”

Actor Don Cheadle also sent Ko a Twitter message.

“That was really cool, too,” Ko said.

Fellow players are curious how Ko will navigate with all the pressure that comes with being No. 1, including responsibilities that can seem burdensome. Yani Tseng spoke openly about being relieved when she lost the No. 1 ranking.

“It will be interesting to see how she handles it,” former No. 1 Cristie Kerr said.

Ko said she has been working with a sports psychologist, Jim Loehr, for a couple months now. She also has spoken with Lewis about what to expect as world No. 1. Lewis held the No. 1 ranking for 21 weeks last year.

“I played with her when she won her first event out here, when she was 15,” Lewis said. “So we've had a pretty cool relationship over the last few years, and she's watching what I'm doing, and I'm watching what she's doing ... I told her that her playing good golf helps us more than anything, and just to make sure that is No. 1. And to say no to some things and not feel bad about it.”

Lewis and Park appreciate how Ko’s story resonates beyond golf fans.

“I don’t think I was that mature at 17, that’s for sure,” Park said. “I think her age, it just surprises me, how she acts on the golf course, treating all things so professionally, not like a kid.”

Lewis sees what Ko being No. 1 offers the entire sport.

“I think for golf, in general, it's a big moment, and for women's golf it's an even bigger moment,” Lewis said. “It puts us on the map. It gives everyone something to talk about. To do something that she's done [going to No. 1], four years prior to Tiger Woods, that's just crazy to even think about. Just to have that comparison, and for people to just say, `Wow.’ It's one of those things I think is going to get outside of golf, and get some recognition there, and that's what we're looking for.

“Whether she's ready for it or not, we'll find out, but she'll learn on the fly, like she's been doing the last few years.  She'll continue to learn and she'll figure it out.  I think her golf is going to be the same, it's just managing all the extra stuff.”

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.