The Best Depends on Your Timeframe

By George WhiteMay 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
A day hardly goes by without someone asking me if Tiger Woods really is the best professional golfer in the world.
Well ' not really. Its been a month or two since anyone even mentioned Tiger. Seems like everyone is busy recently talking about Vijay Singh. Vijay Singh is the best golfer on the planet, they say smugly, believing for all the world that they have discovered a golfer no one knows about. The world rankings say Tiger, they note with a certain air of confidence, but the best golfer is Vijay.
You wont get much argument here. The last time we had any statistics to support an argument ' which was Monday at New Orleans ' Singh was the best golfer in the world.
Well, that is, if you discount the European Tour, where Graeme McDowell outlasted Thomas Levet in a playoff. But I think its safe to assume Vijay was the best golfer in the world on Monday of this week.
Vijay was probably the best golfer in the world last week, too. Remember, he won the Shell Houston Open? That makes two weeks in a row is that enough to make him the best golfer in the world?
Forgotten now is Phil Mickelson, who just as recently as the Masters three weeks ago was considered the best. He has a pretty good resume this year, folks ' 10 tournaments, nine top-10s, two victories a win and a tie for second his last two tournaments. Youre sure he isnt the best?
Lets see, though Singh has won three times this year, including the last two. Yeah, hes the best player in all of golf.
Whoops! Where does that leave Ernie Els? Remember him? He was the best around the first of the year, remember? Hes played in the States only six times, but he won the Sony, finished one stroke back to Mickelsons stirring comeback in the Masters, then put a T3 on the boards the very next week at the MCI. Hes taking the week off, but really ' how do you leave him out?
Uh ' remember not so long ago when it was Adam Scott? It seems like decades ago that he was rolling over the greatest field of the year at the Players Championship. He had finished in the top 10 in four of his first five starts. The golf world swooned over the youngster, proclaiming it had discovered the new No. 1. But, he missed two cuts in a row and has since gone back to Europe ' out of the newspapers, out of mind, they say.
And where does that leave Tiger? EVERYONE has forgotten him. But heres a little secret ' over the last two years, even more so over the last three, four or five years, hes the greatest player in golf. Yes ' the best.
You might get a little argument from the Vijay fans, and they could be right. But Woods won five times last year ' no one else did that. Hes won this year at the Accenture Match Play. You can say he hasnt been the best player this year ' of course it isnt even half over ' and no one can argue that. But when it comes to two years or longer, no one can argue that, either.
Tiger says he it's very likely someone will surpass him in the rankings, and he accepts that..
'It's a fact I won't be No. 1 in the world forever,' he said. 'Either someone flat out outplays me, or I might not play at the same level or old age takes over. Whatever the circumstances are, I don't know, but whatever they are, it's going to happen.
'Every street comes to an end. That's just a fact of life. Just like we're going to have, I'm sure, in the future, some new young kid come out here that's going to be a world beater and it's going to surpass Nicklaus's records, my records, whatever they were at a younger age. That's just the way it is, the evolution of sports.'
So, what does it mean when say so-and-so is the best player in golf? Are you talking about right now ' this minute? Come Thursday somebody will birdie three holes in a row and he will be the best player in golf ' for the moment. Do you mean this week? Its Singh. Do you mean the past month? Its either Singh or Mickelson. Do you mean the last two years? Woods. Or do you mean a career? Its still Jack Nicklaus.
The point is, its getting very difficult to make a definitive choice. The best player in golf can be debated all day and all night. Who do you want it to be? Woods? Singh? Mickleson? Els? Or Nicklaus? Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. And yep.
OK, lets stop debating and just enjoy the golf.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

Getty Images

Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

Getty Images

Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

Getty Images

Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.