Posted Nov 04 2010, 06:16 PM by Cathy Erickson
I really hate it when Sam Johnson steals my topic ideas! It doesn't happen all that often since I don't eat, sleep, and dream about Tiger Woods (just kidding!), but you have to admit that the whole idea of being #1 in the world has become a realistic goal for any number of guys now that Tiger has relinquished the title after I don't know how long.
The criteria to determine the #1 player on the "Official World Golf Ranking" may possibly be one of the most complex and argubly non-relevant calculations to come along in ages. The strangest thing is, it's based on a 2-year running average - which is why Tiger held on to the number one spot for weeks, months, after his game and personal life were on the sidelines. It's crazy, in a way...should it matter what a guy did 2 years ago to deterimine that he's the best as of today? I wrote about this somewhere in the forums, but all that I remember is that a guy can win and be outside of the top 50 and another guy can go a whole year without winning and still hangout in the top 25...heck, he can be #1!!
Another interesting angle about the whole OWGR is that any number of tournaments are in play during each week, but points are determined by strength of field and the status of the event. I guess that since I live in the US, and I follow the PGA Tour, I've become accustomed to the idea that the best players in the world are playing on the US Tour. But as Sam humorously noted, Martin Kaymer is on the verge of being number one and the average US golf fan probably has no idea what he looks like. Okay, he won a Major, and we all watched him, but other than that, when have we seen this guy? Obviously the guy's got game - but from this side of the pond he's sort of a mystery.
I've been pondering and discussing the whole "World Tour" idea...there are some in the golf world that thinks the PGA Tour needs to get off its high horse and let go of it's selfish stranglehold on the Tour schedule and make it so that the best players from all over the world play each other on a more regular basis. Remember when Greg Norman brought this up back in the early 90's and he got into a big rift with the Tour bigwigs about it? The PGA Tour had no intention of giving up any of its events (and potential profits) to let their members trot around the globe. The WGC has somewhat filled that gap, but it's hardly global with 3 of the events being played on US soil. Golfers are in China as I type this, but I bet if someone did some research on that event and the best players there, they might find out that those golfers are making some serious cash outside the ropes while there are over there. What I mean is, I don't think players are purely there to "grow the game" - I think that's part of the PR spin, but my belief is...it's about the money.
The conversation has bubbled up again, I think, because we are seeing more Europeans climbing their way to the top of the OWGR. Up until now, with Tiger being number one, if you wanted to play against the best you came to the PGA Tour...but now, with Lee Westwood capturing the number one spot, and declaring he will continue to play mostly in Europe, will players who want to challege for the OWGR now start travelling to Europe to play instead? Would players actually forego US PGA Tour events in order to get a better shot at the #1 spot?
But just as we ponder that, we hear the news that Ernie Els has decided to concentrate on the US tour and travel less...Graeme McDowell also indicated that he will concentrate his play in the US in 2011 in order to experience the whole FedEx Cup thing - you have to admit, a $10 million carrot is a pretty good reason to play 15+ tourneys over here.
That begs the question...is it more important to be #1 or be rich? Some argue that "great" golfers are driven by quest to be #1 - in fact, a guy that opts to avoid traveling and playing against the best in the world more often will never be "great". I guess to each his own, but I feel like any guy that can keep his card and be a PGA Tour player is already great.
With the the WGC and 4 majors, along with a few marquee events in between right here on the PGA Tour, I think the best players in the world do play each other on a regular basis. I guess only time will tell if European players can hold on to the number 1 spot long enough to start making players hop over the pond to pry it away, but as of right now, it seems to me that PGA Tour hosts the world's best all the time.
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