The Imperfect Storm

By Randall MellApril 21, 2011, 11:06 pm

Do you know how long it has been since a player has won a PGA Tour or European Tour event while holding the No. 1 ranking?

Seventy-five weeks.

We haven’t witnessed a world No. 1 win on the PGA Tour or European Tour since Tiger Woods won the J.B. Were Masters on Nov. 15, 2009.

Yes, the J.B. Were Masters is an Australasian Tour event, but it’s also a sanctioned European Tour event.

If you despise the Official World Golf Ranking, you like hearing this. You like hearing that it’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since a player holding the No. 1 ranking has won on the two most important tours on the planet. You like it because it supports your belief that the rankings are too flawed to take seriously.

The funny thing is that we’ve never taken the Official World Golf Ranking more seriously.

Luke Donald
With a win at the Heritage, Luke Donald will become No. 1 in the world. (Getty Images)

The world rankings have never been more vital or intriguing than they are today.

In fact, the world rankings are more vital and more intriguing by virtue of the fact that there isn’t a dominant player in the game right now.

The world rankings bring an added component to the Heritage this week because Luke Donald can jump from No. 3 to No. 1 by winning the event. This will outrage some folks because Donald’s moved into this position winning just twice in the last five years.

That isn't an indictment of the OWGR as much as it is of today’s top players failing to take advantage of the golden opportunity afforded them with Woods slumping.

The Official World Golf Ranking has never been better for the game than it is today.

Wow, can’t believe I wrote that without the benefit of a helmet or flak jacket, knowing how so many despise the system.

I’m not in the camp that believes the OWGR is good for the game just because it’s controversial. I don’t believe it’s good for the game in the same way that the BCS is good for college football, because it gets people talking about the sport, though it serves that purpose pretty well.

I recognize the world rankings are flawed but like the system because I want some standard to compare and measure the world’s best players in the same way that I can measure the standing of my favorite Major League Baseball, NBA or NFL teams. I like having “standings” that live and breathe and change with the week’s action. Of course, the nearly impossible challenge in golf is finding a measurement that compares apples to oranges, that compares Americans, Europeans, Asians, Australians, Africans and whoever plays professionally even when they’re not competing directly against each other.

Yeah, the OWGR is flawed, it’s imperfect, and it can be maddening to understand, but I like it because it works remarkably well given its impossible task.

Why do I believe that? Because so few tour pros complain about it.

Sadly, that is my best defense of the rankings. There’s almost no outrage among players. If the system were that flawed, that unjust, wouldn’t we hear more players pointing out the inequities? Players complain about everything. Greens, sand in bunkers, rental cars. If there was something fundamentally wrong with today’s world rankings, we’d hear it ad nauseam.

While there are players who dislike the OWGR, a staggeringly large number of them think it works pretty well.

Hey, you might quibble over who should be No. 1 and who should be No. 10 or No. 50, but the system does a surprisingly good job identifying the best grouping of players. Generally, the system gives us a fairly legitimate top 10 and top 50.

I concede the largest problem is on that top-50 bubble, or whatever bubble’s being used to qualify players for majors and world championships.

And I get Paul Azinger’s complaint that players should understand exactly how they’re qualifying for big events. There are quirks in the way a player can sit out a week and move up in the world rankings. Azinger’s best criticism of the world rankings is that players should know what they’re choking for. They should know if they miss this 10-foot putt, it will cost them a title or the $100,000 they need to move up the money list. Nobody’s really sure how many ranking points he’s losing missing a 10-foot putt.

The OWGR is like the weather, though. Everyone likes to complain about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Nobody’s offering a system that comes close to being better.

A column like this will incite numerous complaints about injustices in the system, but few, if any, realistic solutions that specifically show how that new system would more accurately measure players from around the world.

Until somebody can show me a better plan with fewer imperfections, I’m liking that we have the OWGR.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

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The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.