Lee Westwood Back as World Number One…Really?

by Jeff Skinner

So Lee Westwood secures a win over the weekend and climbs back atop the Official World Golf Rankings.  Westwood had a chance at not recapturing his top spot if Luke Donald had closed the deal at The PGA Tour’s Heritage.  But Donald’s loss to Brandt Snedeker meant Westwood once again is World Number One and once again I have to question the validity of the World Ranking criteria.

If Westwood’s victory came on the European Tour, against top notch, world class competition I’d have nothing to say and would acknowledge his status as well earned.  But that’s not the case.  His win came at the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Masters.  Now, I’m not one to bash any golf tour, I’m a fan of golf at every level be it PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, Hooters, Sunshine, Moonshine or Shoeshine Tour.  But come on.  Westwood’s decision to play in Indonesia surprised many seeing that his own tour, The European Tour had an event this week but Westwood is free to play anywhere.  Certainly a trip to Indonesia and a large appearance fee check are fine reasons to make the trip but the competition at The Indonesian Masters is anything but Masters like. (Check out the Indonesian Masters Leaderboard.)

Thongchai Jaidee, a fine international golfer with 13 Asian Tour wins placed second to Westwood.  Jaidee was ranked 75th in the World Golf Rankings going into the tournament.  The PGA Tour’s Heritage, while not a major type field still had three of the top ten in the world and at least a dozen of the top fifty in the world.  Westwood’s tournament had, well, Westwood.

I would put Luke Donald’s second place at The Heritage up against Westwood’s win in Indonesia.  Westwood hasn’t had a top ten finish this season and his ranking is based on his performance in 2010 and portions of 2009.  Donald is by far the superior golfer in 2011 with a win and five top tens on The PGA Tour against world class competition.  Prior to this win the best finish for Westwood was his eleventh place finish at The Masters.

The Official World Golf Rankings are a complicated bunch of formulas that include results for the last two years.  The best player in the world according to their numbers is Lee Westwood.  But he certainly isn’t the best golfer in 2011.

Of the top five players in the World Rankings only three have won this year.  Luke Donald won at The Match Play Championship.  Phil Mickelson won at The Shell Houston Open and Westwood won in Indonesia.  I’ll take Donald right now as the best player in the world and wait for Westwood to win one against real competition.


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