World Golf Rankings Debacle

OK, I’ll admit it, this change was due. After the season Tiger Woods had, he is not the best golfer in the world right now. There are a lot of amazingly talented golfers in the world at this time and each week we’re able to watch with awe as they display their talent for the world to see. Guys like Jim Furyk with his 3 win season that earned him the 2010 Fed Ex Cup title, Phil Mickelson, who won the Masters this year, Ernie Els who had a great season as he was finally getting back to the elite status we’ve seen in year’s past, Steve Stricker who is always toward the top of the leaderboard, even guys like Martin Kaymer who burst onto the scene this year with a bunch of wins including a major at the PGA Championship. Tiger Woods has held the top spot for so long that there are kids nearing the half-way point of their kindergarten year of school that have never seen anyone else be #1. So yeah, it was definitely time that one of these guys knocked him off the top spot after the kind of year he has had.

Wait, what? None of those guys mentioned above took over #1? You’re kidding me, right? Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m thinking too. Lee Westwood is now the #1 golfer on the planet. Lee Westwood, the same guy that cannot piece together 4 full rounds of golf is now the best golfer in the world; they really expect us to believe this? Not only is Lee Westwood #1, he didn’t even have to play golf this week to take over the spot. That doesn’t even sound right, doesn’t even make sense, and if anything just makes a complete mockery of the Official World Golf Ranking list. Hang out on THP for a while and you’ll hear some of our members saying things like Westwood is a choker, he’s a bum, and Westwood must be very religious because he refuses to work on Sunday. I get that Tiger Woods is not the best golfer in the world right now, but what I don’t get is how anyone can try to convince me to believe in a point system that would allow for Lee Westwood to take over the top spot on the list without even playing in a tournament this past week. They’ll try to convince me that this is legit based on his finishes this year in majors but be real, to be the best you have to beat the best, not finish 2nd to them.

It’s true that you don’t necessarily have to win a major to be world’s No. 1. Westwood is actually the fourth player to reach No. 1 without winning a major. Ian Woosnam reached No. 1 in 1991 the week before he won the Masters, and Fred Couples was at No. 1 in two separate weeks a month before he won the Masters. David Duval was No. 1 for 15 weeks in 1999, two years before he finally broke through in his British Open win. So obviously a major title to your resume is not a requirement, but shouldn’t a win on golf’s biggest stage, The PGA TOUR, be one? Yeah yeah, I know Westy won this year on TOUR, but we all know if not for the colossal collapse by Robert Garrigus he wouldn’t have won the St. Jude’s Classic earlier this year, and even there we saw him take a lead into the weekend only to let that lead slip and ultimately putt out on 18 knowing he choked another one away. In comes Garrigus with his best Lee Westwood impression that allows him back into the event that he would ultimately win. Give me a break. Before that his lone win on the PGA TOUR came clear back in 1998 at the then Freeport-McDermott Classic (Now Zurich Classic of New Orleans).

Fans of Westwood will point to his wins on the European Tour where he has 20 of them, heck even over there he hasn’t won in almost a year (Dubai at the end of 2009). Let’s be honest with each other right now, the European Tour is not the PGA Tour, period and end of story. So what you’re going to say right now is “well what about the Ryder Cup, the Euro team kicks the pants off the guys from the PGA TOUR”. You’ve got me there, I can’t explain the Ryder Cup at all but really, does that mean that entire European Tour is better because of the fact that 12 guys who mostly earned their way onto the team by placing well in big PGA TOUR events are better at team golf? No, not even close and everyone knows it. See, the difference between Westwood and the other players that have knocked Tiger Woods from the top spot isn’t only the lack of a major title; it’s the complete lack of winning tournaments on the biggest stage in golf. You simply cannot make me believe that someone who hardly ever plays on what is ultimately the top professional tour anywhere deserves to be holding down the top spot.

This isn’t Westwood’s fault mind you, he has every right to play on whatever tour he wants to and it shouldn’t make any bit of difference to anyone. The problem I have is with the ranking system they use to try to come up with this list. The OWGR points system makes the BCS look perfect. One look at the ranking system explained and I felt like I was about to fail another Statistics exam in college. They’ve got “rolling points” here, “rating values” there, and “ranking values” and “averages” on this side. Put them all together, rub your tummy and pat your head and presto Lee Westwood is the #1 golfer in the world!

Where do we go from here? Next week there are no less than 4 or 5 different scenarios in play for a new #1 so most likely the run won’t last too long for Lee Westwood, which will only provide further proof of the fact he has no business being there now. Clearly the people in charge of this system need to take a long hard look at how they come up with these rankings and go back and tweak where needed or just completely start from scratch. The points system or the rating values they’re using don’t seem to work. Look at Phil Mickelson’s 2009 season, 4 wins worldwide including 2 WGC events and the TOUR Championship. No way that guy wasn’t the best player in the world last year. Mickelson didn’t even come close to taking over the top spot until this season and we all know what he did each time he tee’d it up with a legit shot at claiming #1, most likely the same thing Lee Westwood would have done had he even had to tee it up this week.

I give up, wake me up when Westwood wins something, will ya?

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Jason Kunze
Jason is a busy husband and father of 2 daughters who are both just starting to take up the game that he has loved for years. Golf is his passion, when Jason is not playing golf and testing equipment he's hanging out with all his friends on the THP forum discussing every aspect of this great game.
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