by Jeff Skinner
When Lee Westwood won The Dubai World Championship and hoisted that massive trophy overhead he was doing more than showing that all those days in the gym had paid off. He was flexing the collective golfing muscles of all the English golfers that are playing so well recently. Westwood’s victory and his winning The Race to Dubai (formerly called The Order of Merit) signals the resurgence of English golf.
In past years there has been a scarcity of English golfers atop the leader boards of the world and few Englishmen cracked the top spots of The World Golf Rankings. Gone are the glory days when Nick Faldo was earning his title of “Sir” as he won six majors and was number one in the world.
Those days are gone but this year has seen a sudden change in the fortunes of English golf. With Westwood’s ascension to number four in the world he is now England’s top golfer. His countryman, Paul Casey is one notch below him in the ranking at number five. Fellow Englishmen, Ian Poulter (13th) and Ross Fisher (20th) give England four of the top twenty golfers in the world. Contrast that to the same time over the last two years when there was only one English golfer in the top twenty. Lee Westwood was tenth in the world this time last year and in 2007 Ian Poulter was ranked twentieth in the world. In the final Race to Dubai standings England dominates with six of the top ten spots claimed by Englishmen.
The top Englishmen have sprinted up the World rankings this year. Westwood (4) has moved up six slots, Paul Casey (5) jumped 33, Ian Poulter (13) gained eleven, Ross Fisher (20) picked up thirteen, Oliver Wilson (40) was 41st, Simon Dyson (45) leaped up 74 slots from 119th and Ross McGowan (70) catapulted 128 places from 198th in the world. These seven golfers have claimed nine worldwide victories this year. This does not include Luke Donald who is 28th in the world and has had an injury filled season or Justin Rose who after being 18th in the world last year has slipped to 68th this year.
The future looks bright as well. Fisher, Wilson and McGowan are all under thirty and Poulter, Dyson and Casey are all thirty three or younger. Westwood is the senior man and he is only thirty six.
The next step is winning a major and Westwood has been close this past year with ties for third at The Open and The PGA Championship. Immediately after his win at Dubai Westwood said his goal is to win a major.
This group of golfers has made great strides this past year and English golf is in better shape than it has been in a very long time.