Scott moving to No. 1 without playing is OWGR nightmare

By Doug FergusonMay 13, 2014, 5:05 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Here's a suggestion for how Adam Scott should spend Sunday afternoon in the Bahamas.

Go out to the practice green and throw a ball down about 10 feet from the cup, maybe longer if he wants to add some drama. And then whisper to himself, as so many young golfers have done over the years, with one minor change in the wording.

''This putt to go to No. 1 in the world.''

The alternative is to follow what Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and Lee Westwood did the first time they reached the top of the world ranking.


This is the official nightmare of the Official World Golf Ranking.

Scott had four mathematical chances over the last two months to replace Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world. His best chance was to win at Bay Hill, only he couldn't hold a seven-shot lead on the weekend. His most recent opportunity was The Players Championship, where he would have needed a 68 on Sunday. He closed with a 73.

And now that he has a week off, Scott will go to No. 1.

It won't be official until next week, but here's what we know. Woods keeps losing points without being able to replace them because he is recovering from back surgery and has not played a tournament in more than two months. Scott will move past Woods this week, and the field at the Byron Nelson Championship is not strong enough that Matt Kuchar could surpass them even if he were to win.

Is it awkward? Sure.

Unprecedented? Not even close.

Of the 17 players who reached No. 1 for the first time, Scott will be the fifth who did not play that week. The list includes Bernhard Langer, who was No. 1 in the inaugural world ranking on April 6, 1986.

This will be the 57th change at the top, and the 13th time that a new No. 1 didn't play the week before he got there. That includes Woods – twice.

Faldo won the Masters and British Open, and tied for third in the U.S. Open in 1990. He still didn't get to No. 1, back when the formula was different and the ranking moved at the speed of Kevin Na. Faldo injured his wrist at the PGA Championship, where he shot 80 in the third round and tied for 19th. He took off three weeks to let it heal, and when he showed up at the European Open, he was No. 1.

And don't forget about Westwood. He completed only two tournaments in a three-month stretch in 2010 because of a calf injury. Coming off the Ryder Cup, he took off three weeks and went to No. 1 while watching TV at home in England.

The most confounding of all was in 1999, the summer when Woods and David Duval were the best two players in golf. They were so good that IMG created a made-for-TV exhibition on Monday night called the ''Showdown at Sherwood,'' a battle between No. 1 and No. 2.

Woods was ranked No. 1 and on the course, closed out Duval on the 17th hole. Both took the rest of the week off, and thanks to the mathematical wonder of the world ranking, Duval went back to No. 1.

Not that Duval cared how he got there.

''I guess that's the story right there,'' he said Monday on his way to Dallas. ''I don't remember.''

He remembers the first time he got to No. 1. In front of a hometown crowd, and on the same day his father won on the Champions Tour, Duval won The Players Championship to replace Woods atop the ranking.

That's a lot more fun than being at home.

Rory McIlroy reached No. 1 for the first time by winning the Honda Classic. Luke Donald made his debut at No. 1 when he won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in a playoff over Westwood, whom he replaced at No. 1. Donald has gone to No. 1 four times, three of them by winning.

Greg Norman won five times out of the 11 occasions he got to No. 1 – with four of those wins on different continents. Woods won six times to get to No. 1, including two majors, the ideal way to reach the top of the ranking. Then again, he first reached No. 1 with a tie for 19th in the 1997 U.S. Open. Pretty riveting.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how a player gets to No. 1.

And ultimately, all of them would just as soon win a major than be No. 1. Scott, a former Masters champion, said as much before leaving the TPC Sawgrass.

''I think it's a nice feather in the cap,'' Scott said. ''I mean, if I was never world No. 1 when I'm this close, I'd be disappointed. But I'd also much rather win the U.S. Open and not be No. 1 at all this year. That's what it comes down to.''

Even so, being No. 1 should not be dismissed. It doesn't define the best player in the world, rather who has performed the best over the most recent two-year period. And as Westwood correctly noted when he got to No. 1, ''It's a fairly elite list.''

So lace up your shoes, grab a putter and head to the practice green, Adam. Make a putt. Pretend it's to be No. 1 in the world.

And then take a bow.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.