Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Should a golfer be number-one without a major?


Type "World Golf Rankings" into Google and you will be exposed to less-than-positive perspectives ranging from "unimpressive" to "who cares?"  How important are the World Golf Rankings and to whom?

John Feinstein, a contributor to GolfChannel.com writes, "in a pure golf sense, the world rankings are used to determine who gets into major championships, who gets into lucrative World Golf Championship events and, in the case of the WGC match play event, the rankings determine the seeding of the 64 players."

“Ranking Points”, according to the Official World Golf Ranking website, "are awarded according to the players’ finishing positions and are generally related to the strength of the field. The four Major Championships are rated separately to reflect the higher quality of the events."

Points span a two-year "rolling" period so Tiger Woods' with his big point spread was able to remain in the top spot during most of the 2010 season despite not winning an event all year!  Cause for concern?

Now that Woods has finally "released his stranglehold" from the top spot of the OWGR, a shuffling of golfers has allowed the rankings to truly become more global. However, as soon as one player wins, another takes his place. Is this constant shift good for the game and the fans?

Lee Westwood, tagged as the latest 'golfer never to win a major', regained his number one status on the OWGR last week with a win at the Indonesian Masters. An appearance fee of $500,000 tempted him there but the only player with a top-50 ranking at the event certainly made it easier to climb the rankings with a good showing. Although Westwood's victory was worth twenty world ranking points, Luke Donald had to win in order to become the world number-one.

The points awarded at the Indonesian Masters was the same amount as a third-place finish at The Heritage, the PGA Tour's stop last week.

Is too much emphasis being placed on points? Should points or the fans determine who should be number-one golfer in the world?

With the shuffling of the OWGR three times since the end of 2010, golf writers and fans are now waking up to the fact that this rating system needs to be scrutinized and adapted for a global environment: perhaps a voting system to take into account appearance fees, two-year accruable points and other basic "common sense" issues.

Whereas Feinstein believes that "golf experts" should have a say, should a voice also be given to the avid golf fan, the publinks golfer, and golfers new to the sport and to whom the sport is trying to entice to grow the game? The number-one golfer in the world used to be recognizable: not knowing the names on top of the World Golf Rankings could hurt viewership with no real hero to talk about or cheer onward.

Perhaps a golfer should not even be considered for the number one spot unless he has at least one major in his professional career?

The top five players in the World Golf Rankings this week are: Westwood, Kaymer, Donald, Mickelson and McDowell.

Mark Paul, a fan who added his thoughts to Yahoo Sports, received the top spot in Google Golf News for the term "World Golf Rankings" this week. He questioned, "how impressed should golf fans be by these rankings?"

"Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, and Luke Donald," Paul stated, "are all within percentage points of each other. However, it is easily the least impressive top three in the history of the rankings."

Ron Furlong in his Bleacher Report column asked "Who Cares?" calling the World Golf Rankings title "make-believe."

"In the end, the rankings mean very little to nothing. In fact, the rankings often don't even depict who the best player in the world is."

So, in fact, with so much buzz circulating about the rankings in the world of golf, it should be determined that they are a big deal. If you could pick the number-one golfer in the world, who would you choose? Do you agree with the current rankings?



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12 comments:

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Kuba Jewgieniew said...

Flaws with the Official World Golf Ranking come down to different minutiae - Home Tour bonus points, how bloating fields by paying appearance fees has no impact on the ranking. There should be more of a premium on winning. But those flaws have the biggest impact on the margins – top 30, 50 and 100 on the ladder. Not the top 10. The Official World Golf Ranking gets that right, largely.
Kuba Jewgieniew

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