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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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.