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

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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.