Scott still chasing No. 1, but system is flawed

By Rex HoggardMay 9, 2014, 11:35 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Adam Scott took a deep breath and glanced over to a nearby leaderboard, his fate now dependent on others and the winds that buffeted TPC Sawgrass.

After an opening 77 on Thursday, the would-be alpha male of the golf universe found himself perched on the wrong side of the 36-hole ax at The Players Championship at even par.

He still had a chance to play the weekend, but found himself in the unenviable position of needing some help from the field as well as Mother Nature.

“I’m going to need the wind to stay up this afternoon,” said Scott, who rallied on Friday with a 10-stroke improvement to shoot a 67 that included birdies at three of his last four holes. “That’s the only defense out there at the moment.”

The same could not be said of the Official World Golf Ranking.

As this latest episode has proven, there is no defense for the ranking, just tacit indifference to a formula most observers don’t understand and even fewer agree with.

This would be no ordinary missed cut. Scott – along with Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar – have a chance to overtake Tiger Woods atop the ranking with a solid week at the PGA Tour’s crown jewel.

Full-field scores from The Players Championship

The Players Championship: Articles, videos and photos

The rub, at least as Scott stood in the scorching midday sun pondering his weekend options, is that the Australian would have passed Woods had he not hit a shot this week.

In the complicated computed world of world golf ranking divisors, Scott would have slipped passed Woods, who has been sidelined following back surgery last month, had he not participated in The Players. Of course, that didn’t assure him the top ranking since Stenson (who needs a two-way tie for sixth or better to claim the top ranking), Watson (who needs a solo second-place finish or better) and Kuchar (who needs to win) could have assumed the No. 1 ranking regardless of Scott’s competitive status.

But then hindsight can be a ruthless opponent when one considers that Stenson and Watson are currently tied for 36th and Kuchar is in a group tied for 40th place.

It is the mathematical middle ground that is becoming a common theme in professional golf. Because of how the rankings are calculated, it is often a better option for players, particularly those trying to qualify for certain events like the majors or World Golf Championships, to watch tournaments from the couch than actually play in them.

Just this week Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked about the phenomenon, let’s call it the ranking flu.

“The rankings are an imperfect science that have a reasonably good result, and relative comparative competitive assessment. They do a reasonably good job,” Finchem said.

Aw, stop it.

If that didn’t sound like a ringing endorsement it’s because it wasn’t. But when it comes to the world golf ranking, the best of what seem to be numerous bad options is the winner. It’s an enemy-of-my-enemy sort of thing.

“This is one of those variables in the rankings that we wrestle with from time to time. I don't think we have any new ideas,” Finchem said.

And if the Tour is stumped, imagine how Scott – who moved to No. 2 in the world with his victory at last year’s Barclays – and the rest of his Tour frat brothers must feel, not that he has been paying much attention to the math or the ranking’s misgivings.

“I haven’t been watching any of that kind of stuff,” said Scott, who revealed on Friday that he married his longtime girlfriend in April in the Bahamas. “I would have thought there were other guys with the possibility (to overtake Woods) this week, so sitting at home wasn’t going to do me any good.”

Turns out he won’t be sitting at home on the weekend, either. Thanks to those afternoon winds and a Stadium Course that grew tougher with each gust he finished just inside the cut and will continue his pursuit of the world’s top ranking.

Even in the unyielding sun at TPC Sawgrass, it wasn’t the ridiculousness of the rankings that was haunting Scott. It was his finish on Thursday when he rinsed consecutive tee shots at Nos. 17 and 18 to finish off his 5-over card.

“Quite costly, really,” he sighed.

Not playing was never an option, regardless of the impact on divisors and destiny (he would be the first Australian since Greg Norman in 1997 to claim the top ranking). But not having to play to reach that goal seemed quite ridiculous.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 7:08 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.

Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters

A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.

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Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.