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Fix The World Golf Rankings

by Jeff Skinner

Lee Westwood takes his freshly minted world number one ranking for a test drive this week at The HSBC Champions.  Tiger Woods is now in an unfamiliar place: looking up at someone ahead of him in the World Golf Rankings. For 281 weeks Woods was number one.  Now Westwood will try to hold off Tiger, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson who follow him in the rankings.

It is fitting that the tournament takes place in China.  Asia looks to be where the golfing landscape is changing drastically and change in the World Rankings could signify a change in the landscape of golf.  Woods is no longer the dominant force he was.  Phil could have become the number one player for twelve straight weeks but failed to capture it.  Martin Kaymer is poised to challenge Westwood and with the surge of strong, young golfers from all the worldwide tours this looks to be a time when the top spot could change as quickly as the winds at St. Andrews.

The World Golf Rankings had Tiger Woods on top this entire season and he could not claim anything better than a fourth place finish.  The Rankings put too much weight on tournaments played in the prior year.  He was riding his past victories and really had nothing to warrant such a high ranking this year.  If the rankings only included 2010 tournament Tiger would be well out of the top thirty.  It’s time to change the rankings.

John Feinstein has been ranting about it for awhile and I agree, pretty safe bet to jump on the Feinstein Bandwagon I guess.  But the formula needs to change.  Only current year ranking points should be considered in the rankings.  A tournament win two years ago has no bearing on how a golfer is playing currently.  Was Tiger the best golfer for the entire 2010 season? No way. So drop the prior year data and use the current year only to determine the rankings.

Let the season ending point totals for 2010 determine the ranking for the next season.  Or have no Number One until March 1st.  What difference does it make who is number one anyway?  Do these guys get bonuses for holding the top spot? Oh yea, the tournaments use the rankings to determine the fields for the tournaments.  So after an adjustment period the rankings will shake out and the cream will rise to the top.  If a few players climb up the rankings at the end of the season when the big boys are relaxing they’ll get flushed out by The Masters.  A good solid three months of play will determine the golfer playing the best right now, not someone coasting on points from twenty months ago.  And isn’t that what the World Golf Rankings are for:  to identify the best golfer, current golfer, not a player that hasn’t had an impact on the course this year.  Golf is changing and the rankings should follow.

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