World No 1 Now a Reality for Most

By Randall MellFebruary 23, 2011, 4:10 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. – The climb to the mountaintop isn’t so impossible anymore.

The path to No. 1 isn’t so wickedly daunting.

And Zeus is no longer hurling lightning bolts down at anyone daring to make the climb.

That’s what Tiger Woods was like when he ruled at No. 1 in the world rankings for a record five years.

After Woods got the top ranking back from Vijay Singh in 2005, he built a pile of points as formidable as Mount Everest. He more than doubled the total of the second ranked player, making it laughable for any pro to publicly suggest he was aiming to be No. 1.

Paul Azinger once said he felt sorry for players competing in Woods’ generation, because they would never know what it was like to have a chance to be No. 1 with Woods around.

Nobody could have predicted how quickly that would change.

With the best players in the world gathered for Wednesday’s start of the Accenture Match Play Championship, there’s more than a World Golf Championship title at stake. There’s a chance to gain the No. 1 ranking or make a giant hurdle toward gaining the top spot.

WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
(All times Eastern)

Golf Channel_new
Wed: Noon-6 p.m.

Thurs: 1-6 p.m.
Fri: 1-6 p.m.
Sat: Noon-2 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.


NBC Sports
Sat: 2-6 p.m.

Sun: 2-6 p.m.



The 76 world-ranking points is the most available to a winner this year.

“I never held up being No. 1 as a goal before,” said reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. “Tiger was so far ahead of everyone, it seemed insurmountable. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think that was achievable. I have to put it up there as a goal.”

Lee Westwood’s held the No. 1 ranking the last 17 weeks. He’s vulnerable, though. No. 2 Martin Kaymer can pass Westwood with a victory or a second-place finish. Woods can also jump all the way back to No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Kaymer and Westwood do. But here’s how volatile and wide open this world rankings race has become: Though Woods can gain the top spot back, the seven players directly behind him all have chances to pass him with strong finishes. If Woods goes out in the first round, he’s vulnerable to dropping all the way to No. 7.

“I look at the world rankings quite a lot now,” says Rory McIlroy, who’s at No. 7 this week. “I think if I win, I could go up to third or fourth in the world. Trying to get to No. 1, it’s definitely a big motivating factor for me.”

With a victory, McIlroy will move to No. 3 in the world.

“It’s a goal, of course, but I’m not in any rush to get there,” McIlroy said. “If I keep working and doing the right things, hopefully, somewhere down the line, I’ll achieve that.”

Paul Casey, No. 6 in the world, can leap all the way to No. 2 with a victory.

“I would love to be No. 1,” Casey said. “But, for me, it’s a side goal. I want to win majors. I want to be the Masters and Open champion. But, yes, the landscape’s changed to where you see it’s possible to get there now. The thing is that there are so many great players who can get there. It’s not like it’s easy winning a golf tournament now. It’s just as difficult to win today as it’s ever been, maybe more difficult.

“What you would like today is for Tiger to get back to playing his best golf, and come down the stretch with him and beat him. That would be cool. As a competitor, that’s what you want.”

Kaymer is closest to toppling Westwood this week, but he seems the least interested in world rankings among the challengers for No. 1.

“I’m not worried about my world rankings at all,” Kaymer said. “If you play good golf, you don’t have to worry about it. If you play bad golf, then you should worry about your world rankings.

“It’s nice to be up there, early in my career, and hopefully, one day, I can become No. 1 for a little bit. But at the moment, I’m pretty happy where I am, at No. 2.”

Westwood is relishing his reign as No. 1 and will be looking to build on it this week, but he sees the volatility in today’s rankings as good for the game.

“Time moves on, doesn’t it?” Westwood said. “The world rankings aren’t going to be the same forever. You’ve got lots of great young players coming through, and I like the volatility of the world rankings. You tend to see now if you put a good run together, you move up. If you stay in that run, you stay very high . . . I think the world rankings are very good, and they’ll make the game of golf look healthy.”

And not so wickedly daunting if you’re dreaming of being the No. 1 player in the world.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm