World No 1 Now a Reality for Most

By Randall MellFebruary 23, 2011, 4:10 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. – The climb to the mountaintop isn’t so impossible anymore.

The path to No. 1 isn’t so wickedly daunting.

And Zeus is no longer hurling lightning bolts down at anyone daring to make the climb.

That’s what Tiger Woods was like when he ruled at No. 1 in the world rankings for a record five years.

After Woods got the top ranking back from Vijay Singh in 2005, he built a pile of points as formidable as Mount Everest. He more than doubled the total of the second ranked player, making it laughable for any pro to publicly suggest he was aiming to be No. 1.

Paul Azinger once said he felt sorry for players competing in Woods’ generation, because they would never know what it was like to have a chance to be No. 1 with Woods around.

Nobody could have predicted how quickly that would change.

With the best players in the world gathered for Wednesday’s start of the Accenture Match Play Championship, there’s more than a World Golf Championship title at stake. There’s a chance to gain the No. 1 ranking or make a giant hurdle toward gaining the top spot.

WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
(All times Eastern)

Golf Channel_new
Wed: Noon-6 p.m.

Thurs: 1-6 p.m.
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.



The 76 world-ranking points is the most available to a winner this year.

“I never held up being No. 1 as a goal before,” said reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. “Tiger was so far ahead of everyone, it seemed insurmountable. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think that was achievable. I have to put it up there as a goal.”

Lee Westwood’s held the No. 1 ranking the last 17 weeks. He’s vulnerable, though. No. 2 Martin Kaymer can pass Westwood with a victory or a second-place finish. Woods can also jump all the way back to No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Kaymer and Westwood do. But here’s how volatile and wide open this world rankings race has become: Though Woods can gain the top spot back, the seven players directly behind him all have chances to pass him with strong finishes. If Woods goes out in the first round, he’s vulnerable to dropping all the way to No. 7.

“I look at the world rankings quite a lot now,” says Rory McIlroy, who’s at No. 7 this week. “I think if I win, I could go up to third or fourth in the world. Trying to get to No. 1, it’s definitely a big motivating factor for me.”

With a victory, McIlroy will move to No. 3 in the world.

“It’s a goal, of course, but I’m not in any rush to get there,” McIlroy said. “If I keep working and doing the right things, hopefully, somewhere down the line, I’ll achieve that.”

Paul Casey, No. 6 in the world, can leap all the way to No. 2 with a victory.

“I would love to be No. 1,” Casey said. “But, for me, it’s a side goal. I want to win majors. I want to be the Masters and Open champion. But, yes, the landscape’s changed to where you see it’s possible to get there now. The thing is that there are so many great players who can get there. It’s not like it’s easy winning a golf tournament now. It’s just as difficult to win today as it’s ever been, maybe more difficult.

“What you would like today is for Tiger to get back to playing his best golf, and come down the stretch with him and beat him. That would be cool. As a competitor, that’s what you want.”

Kaymer is closest to toppling Westwood this week, but he seems the least interested in world rankings among the challengers for No. 1.

“I’m not worried about my world rankings at all,” Kaymer said. “If you play good golf, you don’t have to worry about it. If you play bad golf, then you should worry about your world rankings.

“It’s nice to be up there, early in my career, and hopefully, one day, I can become No. 1 for a little bit. But at the moment, I’m pretty happy where I am, at No. 2.”

Westwood is relishing his reign as No. 1 and will be looking to build on it this week, but he sees the volatility in today’s rankings as good for the game.

“Time moves on, doesn’t it?” Westwood said. “The world rankings aren’t going to be the same forever. You’ve got lots of great young players coming through, and I like the volatility of the world rankings. You tend to see now if you put a good run together, you move up. If you stay in that run, you stay very high . . . I think the world rankings are very good, and they’ll make the game of golf look healthy.”

And not so wickedly daunting if you’re dreaming of being the No. 1 player in the world.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”