No One for No 1

By Rex HoggardAugust 9, 2010, 3:15 am

WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio – Tiger Woods could have maintained his tenuous spot atop the sometimes contrived yet universally accepted Official World Golf Ranking by finishing 44th or better at Firestone. Phil Mickelson could have finally wrested the No. 1 ranking from Woods with a fourth-place finish or better. Both played like No. 2.

Neither player looked the part of alpha male on Sunday, what with Lefty struggling to a final-round 78 and a tie for 46th and Woods going one shot better on the day (77) but finishing in a career-worst tie for 78th. But world ranking math and a curious public demand a king, be it by default or otherwise.

For the first time since the summer of 2005 the normally structured world of men’s golf is defined by questions, if not chaos.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson will have another chance to reach No. 1 at the PGA Championship. (Getty Images)
Mickelson seems destined to overtake Woods and claim the top spot for the first time in a Hall of Fame career. He said so himself on Sunday at Firestone.

“If I keep finishing ahead of him every week eventually it'll happen,” Mickelson said. “But the problem is there's guys behind me that will pass me because I'm not playing well enough right now. I've got some work to do to get my own game sharp.”

But then the guy who three-putted from 3 feet (No. 9) and hit the same number of fairways and greens (six) on Sunday and played the weekend in 9 over par doesn’t exactly scream No. 1.

On Saturday, Woods was asked about Mickelson’s chances to claim the top spot. His answer suggested he knew more than the rest of us, “If Phil plays the way he’s supposed to this weekend, then he’ll be No. 1.”

Mickelson has had more than a half dozen chances to dethrone Woods this season, but Firestone was his best and most realistic chance to date. On Friday, Lefty was a stroke behind front-runner Retief Goosen. By Sunday he was looking for answers, just like the rest of us.

It was a measure of the strange days that have gripped golf that on the eve of the year’s final major, Lee Westwood, No. 3 in the world, appeared to some as the best current option for the top spot as he watched the proceedings from his couch at home while nursing a calf injury.

The current void left by Woods’ competitive vortex is not so much about who is the best player right now, but more about how the world No. 1 should be measured?

World Ranking math aside, few if any consider Woods the current No. 1. At least not the current version. Mickelson has three top-10s since his emotional Masters victory but has not exactly been dominant; while Westwood has earned the most world ranking points (273) this season and has been the most consistent but he has just a single victory at the St. Jude Classic.

 “To me it’s about people who win,” Paul Casey said. “I had three (worldwide) wins last year, great year. None this year, it has not been a great year. It’s like (the movie) ‘Talladega Nights.’ What did (Ricky Bobby) say, ‘If you’re not first, you’re last.’”

Prior to 1986, when the world ranking debuted, the debate over who was the best at any particular time was decided almost exclusively on the number of victories a player had.

“We didn’t care about being No. 1, only winning,” said Charlie Epps, a long-time Tour swing coach.

Sean O’Hair took a slightly different approach, suggesting that it is consistency, not the number of championships on the mantel, that should decide who is atop the heap.

“To be hot you’ve got to be in contention on a regular basis. Just because you win a golf tournament doesn’t mean you’re hot. Even if you win two golf tournaments, you can win two tournaments and not be in contention the rest of the year,” O’Hair said before conceding that Ernie Els (a two-time Tour winner this year) would probably get his vote for Player of the Year.

All of which has created a golf landscape that is as murky as it has been in a half decade and a PGA Championship with more uncertainty than a BP cleanup plan.

In the spring and early summer of 2005, Woods and Vijay Singh traded the top ranking six times, with Woods finally taking over for good when Singh tied for 29th at the now-defunct Booz Allen Classic. And for the better part of a record 269 weeks Woods has been an undisputed pacesetter, as evidenced by his dogged hold on the top spot this year despite the worst slump of his career.

But that clarity, that structure, has been eroded by the inconsistencies of Woods and Mickelson and a two-year rolling system that resists the urges of a sporting public that often suffers from a collective form of attention deficit disorder.

It is a debate that seems certain to dominate the conversation at Whistling Straits and as the sun settled over Firestone on Sunday Padraig Harrington, one of the game’s most direct and well-spoken players, offered the best, if not somewhat couched, assessment of the great world ranking debate of 2010.

“(Westwood) is the most consistent player, (Mickelson) is the best when he’s playing well and (Woods) is the best player in the world,” Harrington smiled.

If only it was as simple, and clear, as all of that.

 

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.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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