Is Woods the true No. 1 player in the world?

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2012, 10:00 pm

Tiger Woods won the AT&T National Sunday at Congressional C.C. by two shots over Bo Van Pelt. It was his PGA Tour-leading third victory of the season, all of which have come in his last seven starts. He is currently fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. But, is he the true No. 1 player at the moment? senior writers weigh in.


Tiger Woods entered the AT&T National as the fourth-ranked golfer in the world, then won the tournament and rocketed all the way up to … you got it – No. 4.

Treading water may sound like a curious byproduct of a victory, but the fact is, you can’t argue math. And the Official World Golf Ranking is all about math, with no room for thoughts and feelings and opinions mixed in.

That’s probably why we’re being asked this question right now. Forget the statistical formulas and numerical breakdowns. Is Woods the No. 1 player in the game today?


If I had a vote in some sort of world ranking-type poll, he would certainly sit atop my list right now. The reason is twofold. First, Tiger owns three wins in the past three-plus months, a claim which no other player on any major tour can make. Second, nobody else is making a serious run at that title right now. It’s not like the three players ahead of him on the OWGR – Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood – have been tearing it up. And those who have played well – Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson, to name a few – have seen success only in spurts.

So yeah, naming Tiger Woods as the “true” No. 1 player in the world is sort of a process of elimination from the competition, but it’s also a testament to his recent play. Don’t be surprised if the real world ranking – you know, the one that uses math – follows suit soon enough.


With three victories in three months, yes, Tiger Woods has reasserted himself as the top player in the world today.

But with so much history at Woods' fingertips again as his game and confidence come back, what the Official World Golf Ranking says seems inconsequential.

No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood aren’t the players Woods must see standing out in front of him.

Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead are the guys who stand in the way of what Woods wants most. Nicklaus is there with his record 18 major championship titles, Snead with his record 82 PGA Tour titles.

So now it gets fun.

With Woods practically stepping out of the way for three years, we have seen the confidence and games of a number of players grow. We have seen Donald, McIlroy and Westwood take turns at No. 1. We have seen Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler step into bigger games.

It’s as if Woods’ shadow moved out of the way so these other players could grow into their games. Now, if Woods keeps building this run, we get to see how those other growing games really measure up. We get to see if any of these guys can become what Tom Watson and Lee Trevino became for Nicklaus, formidable thorns in Nicklaus' side in his run at history.

There could be as much fun watching the emergence of the next Watson and Trevino as there is the re-emergence of Woods.


With all due respect to the world golf ranking math, not to mention the foursome of Europeans who have split time atop the world pack ever since the spot came vacant in October 2010, Tiger Woods is the world’s best player.

The ranking’s two-year rolling window may guard against unrealistic spikes and unfair free falls, but on this it seems to ignore the red-shirted elephant in the room.

Woods now has three victories in his last seven starts. If one tracks back to last November, when his body and swing finally began working in tandem, he has four wins (although the Chevron World Challenge is not an official Tour event it does receive ranking points) and seven worldwide top-10 finishes.

During that same time frame, current world No. 1 Luke Donald – who has, in all fairness, been the game’s most consistent player for some time – has two worldwide victories and seven top 10s. You do the math.Or, take it from Bo Van Pelt, who went the final 36 holes at last week’s AT&T National with Woods.

“I'd have to say (Woods),” said Van Pelt when asked who he thought the world’s best player is. “No offense to any of those other guys, but I think he's the only guy to win three tournaments on Tour this year, on three demanding golf courses, and he was leading the U.S. Open after two days. So I'd say that he’s playing the best golf in the world right now.”

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Match Play Final Four set to bring the excitement

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Sunday’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will include a pair of Georgia Bulldogs, a two-and-done phenom from Alabama and a Swede from Stockholm via Stillwater, that would be Oklahoma.

Just like that other tournament, right?

Actually, for all the volatility in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s not even in the same league as this year’s Match Play, where just a single player who began the week seeded inside the top 10 is still playing.

But what the event may lack in star power it’s certainly made up for with stellar performances, starting with Justin Thomas who is the PGA Tour’s most avid Alabama fan and the tournament’s second-seeded player.

After not losing a match in three days of pool play, Thomas again cruised through his morning Round-of-16 bout with Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5; but found himself in an unfamiliar position early in his quarterfinal match against Kyle Stanley.

Having not trailed during any point in his matches this week, Thomas bogeyed the second hole to fall behind.

“I was hoping to never trail this whole week. I thought that was unbelievable that [2017 champion Dustin Johnson] did it last year,” Thomas said. “I'm going out there this afternoon, and I was like, ‘Man, I have got a chance of doing this, too.’ Then I missed a 3-footer on 2 and shot that out the window.”

The world’s second-ranked player was nearly perfect the rest of the way, regaining the lead with three birdies in four holes starting at No. 5 and closing Stanley out with a bogey-free finish.

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It’s all part of an impressive turnaround for Thomas, who had been slowed in recent weeks by dental surgery followed by a bout with the flu, which nearly prompted him to miss the Match Play.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” said Thomas, who can unseat Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking if he advances to the championship match. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

His improved health has dovetailed with his increasingly better play at Austin Country Club and he’s now two matches away from winning his first World Golf Championship.

Like the NCAA tournament, however, being one of the last four standing only means more work, and Thomas will have plenty to keep him busy when he sets out early Sunday in a semifinal match against Bubba Watson.

Although Watson hasn’t been as dominant as Thomas, his ability to overpower any course, any time, has been evident this week following victories over Brian Harman, 2 and 1, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 5 and 3, on his way to the Final Four.

“When you're hitting an 8-iron and another guy is hitting a 7- or another guy is hitting a 6-iron, obviously that's going to change everything,” said Watson, who played his college golf at Georgia. “It's like LeBron James, when he jumps, he jumps higher than I do, so it's an advantage. When you're hitting the driver good and those guys you're naming, they're known for hitting the driver pretty well, just like Thomas is doing right now, he's been hammering it. Anytime that you're hitting the driver somewhat straight, it's an advantage.”

But if Bubba is a familiar foe for Thomas, he may want to do a quick Google search to fill in the blanks on one of his potential final opponents.

While Alex Noren is still a relatively unknown player to many American fans (and that’s certain to change in September at the Ryder Cup), it’s only because they haven’t been paying attention. The Swede, who attended Oklahoma State, has been dominant this week, sweeping the group stage followed by a 5-and-3 victory over Patrick Reed in the Sweet 16 and a 4-and-2 triumph over Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

“I've always liked match play because the outcome is quite direct,” said Noren, who will face Kevin Kisner in the semifinals. “In match play, you've just got to be really focused all the time and anything can happen. And then you have to play good each round. You can't just give up a round and then think you've got three more.”

But if a JT vs. Noren final would be the perfect Ryder Cup primer, the dream match up for Thomas in the championship tilt might be Kisner.

Kisner lost a friendly wager to Thomas earlier this year at the Sony Open when Alabama defeated Georgia in the NCAA National Championship football game and he had to wear an Alabama jersey while he played the 17th hole on Thursday.

Kisner would certainly appreciate the chance at a mulligan. And the way the duo have been rolling in birdie putts this week, it has the potential to be just as entertaining as that other tournament.

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Up one, Stricker hunting second Champions title

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 11:48 pm

BILOXI, Miss. - Steve Stricker moved into position for his second straight PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Stricker won the Cologuard Classic three weeks ago in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 12th the following week in the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

Stricker had a 7-under 137 total at Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed layout with big, speedy greens.

The 51-year-old Wisconsin player bogeyed Nos. 2-3, rebounded with birdies on Nos. 6-7, birdied the par-4 12th and eagled the par-5 13th. He has six top-three finishes in eight career senior starts.

First-round leader Joe Durant followed his opening 66 with a 72 to drop into a tie for second with Jeff Sluman (67).

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Thomas can take world No. 1 with win over Watson

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

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Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Tour.

''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.