Ranking is Just a Number

By Rex HoggardFebruary 25, 2011, 5:59 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. – If the Official World Golf Ranking thought it was being vilified more than a Middle East dictator of late the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is not helping things.

Nothing, save a healthy and heated world No. 1 debate or the Ryder Cup, unravels the world ranking math like the Match Play and this week’s WGC is proving to be ranking kryptonite. So far this week the top-seeded players have fallen away like so many zeros behind a decimal point – first Tiger Woods was bounced followed 24 hours later by Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood.

In a mathematically correct world the reigning No. 1 doesn’t miss a bunny on the 16th hole to square his match, the No. 5 at least sees the last five holes of his second-round match and the No. 3 doesn’t jump a redeye back East on Wednesday.

WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
(All times Eastern)

Golf Channel_new
 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.

But then only match play exposes the world rankings for what they are with such expediency – a conversation starter. To be clear, Woods’ slide out of the top spot last year didn’t create that reality, it only magnified it.

What else would explain two wild days in the Arizona desert that has left the assembled masses with just a single top-seeded player? And even that player, Martin Kaymer, needed 20 holes to dispatch Justin Rose, who began the week as the No. 9 seed in the Gary Player Bracket.

On Wednesday, 14 lower-seeded players advanced, the second most in Match Play history, and Day 2 was no easier on the status quo with six “long shots” making it to the Sweet 16.

Thus is the fallacy of the world ranking. Rose is no more golf’s version of Weber State than Woods is the game’s North Carolina, at least not the current version.

“It’s been an interesting couple of days. A lot of big names going out in some style,” said Graeme McDowell, a 4-and-2 winner over Ross Fisher on Thursday. “But it’s the nature of the beast at this event. You don’t have to shoot 65 every day, all you’ve got to do is win and stay standing.”

The distance between No. 1 and No. 64 is measured in feet not yards, and no one validates that point more than J.B. Holmes who was actually No. 66 in the world when the WGC field was set on Feb. 14 but was called in on a last-minute relief assignment when Tim Clark’s ailing elbow forced him to withdraw.

So far this week Holmes has taken down Camilo Villegas and Ernie Els on a golf course not named TPC Scottsdale and is starting to look less like a Cinderella story than a solid sleeper pick.

The same can be said of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ben Crane. The Mechanic has never made it past the quarterfinals in nine tries yet is 2-0 and hasn’t been pushed to the 18th tee all week, while Crane stunned Rory McIlroy, the Ryder Cup hero and a second seed this week, in just 11 holes.

It is at the top of the marquee where the math makes even less sense, however.

On Wednesday, Westwood made it clear via Twitter he was not pleased with his lack of airtime on Golf Channel. On Thursday he was probably looking to avoid the camera on his way to a 1-up loss to Nick Watney, a less-than-stellar match that included a missed 3 ½ footer at the 16th hole.

“The 16th . . . I basically vomited up on the 16th green,” was Westwood’s only assessment.

At least he made it to the 16th hole. Phil Mickelson was 1 up through three holes against Rickie Fowler, 10 holes later he was looking for a ride back to the Dove Mountain clubhouse with his hat in his hand, a 6-and-5 train-wreck that was the worst Match Play loss of Lefty’s career.

“I got beat up pretty bad. He’s a heck of a player,” Mickelson said. “We only played four holes on the back side and (Fowler) played them in 5 under.”

If nothing else two days in the desert did validate Gen Y’s growing reputation as world beaters.

Fowler’s rout of Mickelson was clinically efficient, while Italian teen sensation Matteo Manassero has been flawless for two days, and 23-year-old Jason Day, an old man in that group, was the day’s ultimate bracket buster with a convincing 4-and-2 walkover of two-time Match Play runner-up Paul Casey.

Not that a youth movement could even begin to explain the ranking carnage through two rounds at Dove Mountain. The only trends on a potpourri leaderboard are an utter lack of order – young beating old, supporting actors ousting the established, sixth men outshining stars. The only certainty at the Match Play is that nothing is certain.

But this is less an indictment of the world ranking than it is a clarification that the game goes much deeper than any math could ever accurately portray and once a year the Match Play reminds us of that simple truth.

– For more insight from Rex Hoggard, follow him on Twitter @RexHoggard

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

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.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.