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Rankings accurately reflect golf landscape

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Iain Carter | 12:19 UK time, Monday, 25 April 2011

Golf's world rankings are all wrong - they must be.

This seemed to be the verdict stateside after Lee Westwood returned to the top of the standings with his victory in the Indonesian Masters.

Of course, had Luke Donald won his play-off with Brandt Snedeker at the Heritage tournament in South Carolina it would have been another Englishman celebrating becoming world number one.

Westwood and Donald do not have a single major between them, therefore the rankings must be flawed, say the critics. How can the best player in the world be regarded as such without winning one of the game's four biggest prizes?

"I think there's something wrong with the system," opined the respected Florida Times Union golf man Garry Smits. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer observed: "I don't know how the world rankings work, No. 1 is getting traded like bad stock."

Westwood poses for photographers after his win in Indonesia - Photo: AP

Another who doesn't seem to appreciate the minutiae of the rankings is the great Sir Nick Faldo who, with trademark diplomacy, tweeted ahead of Donald's final round at Hilton Head: "Nothing at all against Luke Donald and Lee Westwood as No. 1 - that's the system - but I think system should give extra points for a major win."

In other words: "No offence, but world number one isn't what it used to be." So says the only other Englishman to have topped the rankings.

If that is what Sir Nick meant, then he is probably correct because world number one status does not currently belong to a single dominant figure in the way it did when the six-time major winner was at the top of the tree, but he fails to acknowledge that in fact the system does give extra points for major wins and does not need tweaking.

For Faldo and any Charlotte Observer readers out there here's a rough guide on how the rankings work.

Performances on the professional tours gain you ranking points and the total number of points earned in a two-year period is divided by the number of tournaments you play in that time. It is this points average that determines your position in the list.

Throughout this period the value of the ranking points steadily diminishes, so a result from a year ago is not worth as much as when first earned. Players are expected to play at least 40 tournaments, if they play fewer (as with Tiger Woods) the arbitrary divisor applied to the overall points tally to produce the all important average is 40.

The bigger the tournament the more ranking points are earned. Victory in a major yields 100 points, a win in The Players' Championship (regarded in some quarters as the unofficial fifth major) yields 80 points and Donald picked up 76 points for his victory in the WGC Matchplay in February.

For winning the Indonesian Masters, Westwood collected just 20 points, 4.67 fewer than Donald received for finishing in a share of fourth place at the Masters.

So the system, Sir Nick, is weighted in favour of the majors and takes due account of the value of the events that make up the rest of the calendar. The problem is that these four biggest events; the Masters, US Open, Open and PGA have failed to identify a dominant player for more than two years.

Since Padraig Harrington won the 2008 Open and US PGA every subsequent major has been won by a different player.

We are in an extraordinary period of flux at the top of the game. The difference between Westwood at number one, Martin Kaymer at two and Donald at three is covered by .278 of a ranking point.

Donald narrowly failed to make it two English wins in the same day - photo: Getty

Westwood heads the standings with a points average of 7.653. In 2008, when Harrington had just won back to back majors, he had an average of 7.855. He would be a commanding world number one with that now, but then was only three in the world behind Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Was anyone arguing then that the Irishman should be world number one? I don't remember many, because although Harrington had the golden form that summer, Woods was the reigning US Open champion and still the man to beat wherever he played.

Woods is no longer that dominant figure, so if anyone now were to repeat Harrington's feats of three years ago they would almost certainly jump to the top of the rankings.

The same system that identified Woods as world number one for a total of 623 weeks (when no one had an argument against it) is the one that has Westwood as world number one now - so why should we dispute its verdict?

What we should do is look at the detail, acknowledge the volatility of the game at the very top and recognise the value of consistently high finishes week in, week out because this is how players are separating themselves at the moment.

Another usually insightful voice, that of the Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee, tweeted: "No. 1 ranking will be traded like a fruit cake for an unforeseeable future (sic), what interest does that hold compared to a dominant figure in golf?"

The answer from this side of the pond, with five UK players (Westwood, Donald, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey) in the top 10, has to be plenty.

We have just enjoyed the most thrilling Masters of recent years, the climax to the Heritage was never anything other than compelling and the Players' (even without the absent Westwood) can't come quickly enough.

Someone will eventually emerge as a dominant figure. If Donald could drive like Westwood or if Westy could chip and putt like Donald, it would be that person. Perhaps the closest hybrid is Kaymer, the German they sandwich in the rankings.

But there are several more candidates and this period of jockeying for position is enthralling. I suspect it will only be seen that way in America when one of their own joins the party.

When that player does - whether its a Dustin or a Rickie or someone else - they'll find the ranking system will prove perfectly adequate in reflecting their presence at the top of the game.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    I think you make an excellent point. I didn't find the game anywhere near as interesting when Woods was at the top for so long but that doesn't mean the system was wrong. I think it is very difficult to pick a stand out golfer in the world at the moment and the ranking system reflects that and at the moment it shows who has been the most consistent golfer in recent times which has to be the most accurate way of doing things. I would also say that the Americans probably do not appreciate Westwood's talent as he doesn't play a lot of his golf in the US.

  • Comment number 2.

    Where is the extended debate on who was no. 2 in the world behind Tiger when he was the dominant player? Wasn't that traded like bad stock? It would be an interesting analysis to see the volatility of the No.2 spot behind Tiger against the No.1 spot since he no longer held it.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the system works - if no system were in place would there be a clear world number one based on opinion? Not at all. At the peak of his powers Woods averaged more than 20 points if I remember rightly - while Mickelson behind was

  • Comment number 4.

    totally agree.

    you dont change the system for determining for the no.1 spot just because there is no one dominant player at present.

    having said that, it is a bit frivolous to update it after every tournament.
    maybe we could have a ranking system that updates itself and factors in all the results that have occurred since the last major. that way, it would only update four times a year, immediately after a major. and during the intervening time, you could constantly update and report on the 'provisional' rankings, like in snooker.

  • Comment number 5.

    While I'm surprised at Nick Faldo being ignorant of the system considering his past successes, although his paymasters now are from the US so hardly surprising he's pandering to their view. I'm just glad Tiger's out of the picture (never liked him even though he;'s a supreme golfer) as it opens up the rankings pretty wide now. All sour grapes from the US I reckon, fallen star and the others haven't stepped up yet - brilliant for Europe, can't wait for the next ryder Cup

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with Ian in that there's nothing wrong with the system, it will put out a #1 player. And with the current group of golfers, I have no argument with the rankings.

    But, I think what Mr. Faldo, and others may be alluding to--and my personal feeling--is that there is no current player worthy of being ranked #1. By that I mean, if you cary the #1 ranking, there is an expectation that you are superior to your peers, and that when you step onto the course, to win the tournament other players must beat you. Clearly Faldo and Woods, two of the #1's mentioned in the article, had that whilst the wre #1. And there are just no players at the moment that I feel have that aura about them.

    Don't get me wrong, Donald, Westwood, Kaymer and others are fine golfers (I certainly could not do what they do); and as I originally posted I have no ill will towards any of them being ranked #1--but none are so clearly superior to their peers that the #1 ranking suits them perfectly.

  • Comment number 7.

    As with many commentators, Nick Faldo has never been too concerned with the facts, when making his hastily conceived comments. "Tweet" about sums up the thought that he put into this comment on "extra points for major wins."

    "Why should majors get extra points ?" It seems to me that the number of world ranking points available for each event should be determined purely by the strength of the field actually playing in that event. Obviously, that would not satisfy the players who manipulate their world ranking positions by playing in promotional events with inflated purses, but it might encourage most players to constantly pit themselves against the world's best.

    That would not appease the US audience's desire for bunches of statistics as the basis for determining who is the best player in the world, but it would provide the social networks with a fantasy role to play in determining who is the best player.

    I'm afraid, Toad, that we have gone beyond quarterly updates of the ranking system. I am awaiting my iPhone app which produces new ranking, live, after every shot !

    (Incidentally, have you, Iain, done an analysis of the majors apparently throwing up more "unexpected" winners than most of the regular tour events ?)

  • Comment number 8.

    I entirely agree with you. The existing position simply reflects the fact that there is no one dominant player. Why not ask the critics to propose something better (constructive) rather than simply criticising the current system (destructive)? My guess is that, under any rational system, the cream will rise to the top.

  • Comment number 9.

    I was listening to Faldo on Sunday and he knew what he was talking about - he knew how the rankings worked. His point was fair enough that the majors should have more ranking points - he knows they already carry a premium, but that the premium should be more, and i must say I agree, though I am a huge fan of the British and European contingent at the moment....but hang on Martin Kaymer has reached No.1 and he hold a major, McDowell surged up to 5th and he holds a major - Schwartzel looks like he has the potential to put in a sustained challenge in the big tournaments. So all in all, we need the rankings, they do in the main work, no one would dispute the excellence of Westwoods sutained form, but he has not got the job done despite several good opportunities in the majors. My tip for global dominance - a young Italian bloke called Matteo - Rory should look at him, how he goes about his business, no flashiness, no twitter accounts.......

  • Comment number 10.

    Pete Sampras once commented in an interview that there were players like Yevgeny Kafelnikov who made world #1 by entering every tournament he could possibly enter, piling up points and cash (Kafelnikov did win the French and Aussie Open fyi) and there were players, like himself, who entered tournaments that mattered and steeled up especially for Slams.

    Lee Westwood is in danger of becoming a Yevgeny Kafelnikov if he becomes world #1 every other week winning the likes of Indonesian Masters without facing the best players in the world.

    Or worse a Dinara Safina who was just the worst advertisement for women's tennis when she was world #1.


  • Comment number 11.

    I agree with Faldo. A few months ago Chinese friend asked me who the World's Number One golfer was. When I said Lee Westwood, he said "Who?"

    Lee Westwood is a fine golfer but until he wins a major it's very hard to view him as the best player in the world. The world ranking is like a global money list. You can come top by being consistent.

    Most of the previous leaders like Faldo, Woods, Singh, Ballesteros and Price were multiple major winners and they seemed to deserve their ranking. Both Westwood and Donald have both played poorly at key moments during the majors. It's hard to view them as truly great golfers. Their ascendancy seems more like a statistical anomaly.

  • Comment number 12.

    This happens whenever there is a change of the best player of the era; there is a scramble to find the next top player.
    Personally, this is much more interesting than having Tiger or Shark or whoever dominating the list.
    Just imagine, if Luke had won yesterday the day would have had three #1s - Kaymer started the day, followed by Lee and then Luke - how exciting!
    Yes, the majors are great, but you could also argue that with so many first time winners that disappear they are a measure of the best for a week, not best for world #1. But that's fodder for a different discussion.

  • Comment number 13.

    If anyone is in any doubt how diffiult it is to come up with a decent ranking system, they should look at the top of the Fedex cup rankings and the PGA tour money list. Although they are based on the same events they actually have different different golfers at the top of them. When Westwood originally became number one and people complained that he had never won a major, no one suggested a method of world ranking which would reflect what a palyer had achieved throughout their career. The fact is that it is very difficult to come up with an equitable system that reflects how golfers are doing on different tours and by and large the present system does pretty well. I am fed up with people criticising it just because they do not like the results it produces.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks for this article, as I never knew how the "average points" score was calculated before!

    I'm in agreement with those who support the current system – I think it's thrilling that the very top of the rankings is in flux from week to week at the moment (or even from hour to hour, for a while this Easter); far more interesting than the same player sitting on top for literally years at a time. Let's face it, it's almost a given that at some point one player will come to dominate the game again and the excitement of having several players actively challenging for the top spot will be gone once more, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
    I think the way it's calculated, by having the points amassed divided by the number of events entered, gives a fair ranking for any given time, as it rewards consistency while still including a sizeable premium for the biggest events – and avoids the situation in tennis, say, where there is mileage in simply racking up as many tournaments as possible since cumulative-points-earned is the all-important bottom line. (Though I think multiple Grand Slam champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov was hard done by in the above-mentioned comments, for instance.) In either sport, you're going to get naysayers who'll insist that anyone who tops the rankings without winning one of the four majors is a sort of 'paper champion' – but at the same time, I reckon this factor just adds another layer of interest: after all, as if the likes of Westwood and Donald weren't motivated enough already to try and win a major, forcing their way to the very top of the rankings means they have the added incentive of proving those people wrong by going out and winning one now...!

  • Comment number 15.

    As one reflects on Mr Carter 's musings the more one is caterpulted back to that quite extraordinary period in ATP tennis rankings in the late nineties when one Michael Chang , a journeyman tennis pro , if there ever was one , contrived to stay to stay no 2 in the world rankings behind the indomitable Pete Sampras for so many years

  • Comment number 16.

    The system as it stands works, sort of.

    What is wrong is the idea that all #1 ranks are equal when clearly they are not.

    During the course of a season the natural ebb and flow of players schedules will effectively mean the trading of the position quite often under the current circumstance.

    I would propose that instead of all of those players being able to claim official #1 the rankings should be ran on an annual basis for this. Thus while yes a number of players may be provisionally 1 at one point or another, the official #1 will only be awarded annually on a set date.

    That way any effect of scheduling should be taken out of the equation totally.

  • Comment number 17.

    The system is fine but the number one ranking itself isn't interesting or prestigious unless and until someone opens up a gap and holds the top spot for a decent period. Like Greg Norman did. Or Woods. (Hey and Norman never won a single major in the US - and only two in total - so I don't buy the argument it's all about majors; if a player reeled off a load of big but non-major tour victories, 5/6 in a year, that would be good enough for me to hail him as a 'proper' world #1 - Tiger in 2009, for example).

  • Comment number 18.

    10. At 17:01pm 25th Apr 2011, anandav wrote:
    Pete Sampras once commented in an interview that there were players like Yevgeny Kafelnikov who made world #1 by entering every tournament he could possibly enter, piling up points and cash (Kafelnikov did win the French and Aussie Open fyi) and there were players, like himself, who entered tournaments that mattered and steeled up especially for Slams.

    Lee Westwood is in danger of becoming a Yevgeny Kafelnikov if he becomes world #1 every other week winning the likes of Indonesian Masters without facing the best players in the world.

    Or worse a Dinara Safina who was just the worst advertisement for women's tennis when she was world #1.
    -----------------------

    Try reading the article next time. Tennis and Golf have very different ranking systems. In Tennis it's a total aggregate system, more tournaments mean more points.

    In Golf it is an average system, more tournaments do not mean more points. Additionally weaker tournaments earn less points, it is pretty much impossible to work the Golf rankings like you can the tennis ones.

  • Comment number 19.

    continuation to original comment @ 18.47.
    Looking at the likes of Westwood, Keymer and latterly. Donald one finds it hard to to divorce oneself from the Chang image that now appears to beset itself on the efficacy of the current ranking system. But perhaps, once again, in the absence of a truly seminal figure in the sport we may have to accept the enivitability of a " liquorice allsorts" scenario for quite some time yet..........

  • Comment number 20.

    A bit misleading in your description of the owgr's, Iain, but let's not quibble.

    I reckon Faldo is dead right, something like a 50% premium on points awarded in Majors rather than the existing 25% sounds about right. And if my mental arithmetic is correct, that would provide Westwood with a more emphatic lead in the rankings.
    Remember, Faldo was talking about a pre-WGC era.

    There are some absolutely moronic articles being written in the US media about this, merely highlighting that maths isn't a strong point with American journalists and they live in a climate where flatulent rhetoric is more powerful than facts.
    In that regard, Iain, your penultimate paragraph is spot on.

  • Comment number 21.

    I largely agree with your assessment, although I would make one tweak, which would probably result in Martin Kaymer being number 1. That is to increase the number of points for a major. They are more than 20/25% more important than the Players/WGC and I am sure the nerves/choke factor in these events is significantly less than in a major (just ask young Rory!). For the overall fan I think this would better reflect the view on who the top players are. Whilst overall consistency is fundamental to the game, and Luke Donald and Lee Westwood fully deserve their position, ultimately it is performance in Majors which determine your true status. As a back up to this point, it was Westwood's performances in Majors which propelled him to the top in the first place.

    Seperately I don't think the Players should be ranked higher than the WGC events. This continues to favour the US tour which I believe is fundamentally wrong, but after years of US rankings dominance, I am now getting picky!

  • Comment number 22.

    Small additional comment on Kaymer now being number 1 if Majors counted more. He nearly won 5 events on the trot a few months ago, a feat only matched by Woods in the modern era. I remember Faldo being lauded for winning the Irish Open 3 times in a row. Kaymer (until a couple of months ago) was playing fantastic and with a major was clearly the number 1 player in the world

  • Comment number 23.

    I totally agree with Iain that the current ranking system is the best available option and, yes, it will mean that the number 1 spot will be hotly contested over the foreseeable future. Sir Nick's co-commentator remarked that, should Donald rise to the number 1 spot, then he would be the third Brit to attain that position behind Faldo and Westwood. Who remembers that Welshman, Ian Woosnam, who was world number 1 for 50 weeks? Clearly Sir Nick doesn't otherwise he would have offered a correction.

  • Comment number 24.

    It occurs to me (further to what I wrote at 18:33) that, regardless of the weight of opinion on one side or other of the debate, perhaps the simplest argument is that the top of the rankings being in flux at the moment undeniably represents the truth: that there is no single dominant figure in golf right now. Altering the system so that someone just appears to become that, simply by weighting the majors more heavily, or not changing the rankings more than annually or quarterly, doesn't alter the fact that the momentum at the top of the sport really is switching back and forth between players from month to month and major to major, so I think it's entirely appropriate that the Number 1 spot should reflect this transitional state.

    It's a bit like Formula One: having the constructors' lead swap back and forth from Red Bull to Maclaren to Ferrari throughout the season, by updating the standings after every race, is vastly more exciting and representative of the currently fairly level playing field, than if one were just named top dog for three months or a year at a time, isn't it...?
    A better comparison maybe would be with snooker, which until very recently had rankings that only updated annually: by its nature, this didn't represent what was going on throughout the year – so you'd get talk of the "world number (x)" and simultaneously of the "provisional world number (x)" etc., which is just confusing for the average casual follower of the sport. If the world number one player had nine months of lousy play then it still didn't affect their position until the next annual revision, which gets ludicrous after a while – surely that makes them far more of a lame-duck, paper champion than someone who just briefly ascends the summit without having won a major, say. Snooker has now altered its system in the opposite direction, with rankings updating much more often, giving a much more fluid and dynamic ranking list where players have to continuously fight for their place amongst the elite. I can't see how taking this approach can harm any sport, put it like that.

  • Comment number 25.

    The world rankings are flawed. Some years ago Colin Montgomery won the European Order of Merit an amazing 8 seasons from 9, including 7 straight wins. Yet he never got higher than world number 2. This has got to show that the problem is the way the points are distributed between tournaments. Players based in America play for a higher points total than in Europe, becuase they have "bigger" tournaments.
    Had Montgomery had the same success on the USPGA he would have enjoyed the number 1 spot, but he didn´t and this had nothing to so with the fact he failed to win a major tournament.

    Tournaments should be granted points on a system that honours integrity and reflects the nature of the sport. 3 of the 4 majors are played in the US given those players who play the USGA circuit a far greater chance of success than those who spend their time on the European circuit. This is the first fundamental flaw in the system.

    This year is one of the first where the majority of the top 10 play most of their golf on the european circuit, probably down to the fact that as mentioned the majors have been won by different people, had someone won 2 or 3 of the majors in the last 2 years they would be on top of the pile.

    I have never understood how, until now european players have struggles to copete for the number 1 spot, even though the european tour has produced some great golfers in the last 2 decades.

  • Comment number 26.

    Of course the system is flawed. It must be. How can there be so many players rateed so highly who don't play a lot on the US Tour? Oh yeah, the game must be flawed as well, there are currently no US players who are major champions. Too many flaws? The biggest flaw is Faldo, where is his head?

  • Comment number 27.

    Previous comments deriding the ATP Tennis rankings as being cummulative and therefore advantageous to players playing "every tournament" are wide of the mark.

    ATP World Rankings in fact score a max of 2000 pts for Grand Slams & 1000 pts for the 2nd tier events (of which there are 8 and the top 30 players are mandated to enter these events unless injured). Beyond those 12 events, players are limited to the best of only 6 other counting tournament results from 500 & 250 point tournaments. This means a maximum of only 18 tournaments will count towards the Rankings, and there is nobody in the Top 10 who you could today accuse of 'playing the system' and attaining their ranking by entering more tournaments than their peers.

    The ATP system is therefore very fair, and has been wrongly criticised above by people who clearly don't know their facts! :-)

  • Comment number 28.

    Not quite sure where you are coming from Craig !! but assuming you are on the level, Joe Kennedy (JF's dad ) remarked that the Wall St stock market had to be flawed when he started getting hot tips from the shoeshine boys ! Equally the current golf ranking system has to be flawed when it is spearheaded by a proliferation of journeyman pros............!!

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't recall there ever being a dominant figure as world #1 to the extent that Woods was - when the likes of Norman and Faldo were #1, what were their quoted odds of winning any given tournament? 12/1, 16/1? Whereas Woods was quoted as 4/1, 9/4...evens, one time, maybe?

    If you take 'world #1' to mean 'player who is more likely to win a tournament than anyone else is', it seems pretty reasonable for it to be Westwood, Donald or Kaymer. The problem with Safina as WTA #1 (like e.g. Marcelo Rios on the men's side) was that, put in a tournament with Serena, she never looked the most likely to win.

  • Comment number 30.

    No surprise that the American press are slagging off the rankings. All their players are in ABYSMAL form and tumbling down the list. Sour grapes. Stems from one thing ..... their boys are happy on home turf but can't hit a barn door outside of the banal parkland tracks they play week in week out. Good to see Dustin Johnson trying to broaden his horizons this week in Korea, but he is one of few who bother to try.

    Slightly miffed that Faldo is not supporting his home boys, but then he is pretty much American now. Not interested in anything he has to say. Doesn't even play the game anymore. Not even at the Masters, where Gary Player played into his 70s.

  • Comment number 31.

    Even with a system that gave a huge bonus for a major win, the argument that the rankings are wrong would still be raging at the moment.

    I haven't heard anyone say that working out the rankings over a longer time period than 2 years makes sense? I don't believe it does.

    So in the last 2 years, there have been 8 major winners - Schwartzel (11), Kaymer (2), Oosthuizen (31), McDowell (5), Mickelson (4), YE Yang (34), Cink (66), Glover (107). Faldo et al must believe that one of these guys would be a rightful #1 and... maybe they're right.

    But should these guys automatically be the top 8 in the world because they've won majors? No! Is Lucas Glover a better player (1 win in 2 years, 8 top 10's, 14 missed cuts) better than Lee Westwood (5 wins, 25 top 10's, 3 missed cuts) because his win was a major. No!

    So it's clear that all results have to count.

    Maybe there should be a bigger premium for winning a major (not necessarily for just doing well in a major)? If so, let's say the top 10 now looks like this...
    1) Kaymer
    2) Mickelson
    3) McDowell
    4) Westwood
    5) Donald
    6) Shwartzel
    7) Woods
    8) McIlroy
    9) Casey
    10) Stricker
    11) Oosthuizen
    12) Yang

    Would Faldo and the American media be happy with these rankings? I doubt it. Woods slips even further down. Still a European at #1. Still 5 UK golfers in the top 9. Only 3 American's in the top 12.

    The fact seems to be that European golf is really strong. World golf (Asia and South Africa) is getting stronger. The best American's are ageing, injured, out of form and the younger US crowd are yet to really break through and the US audience doesn't like it.

    The #1 golfer at the moment is either Kaymer or Westwood.

  • Comment number 32.

    Super read Iain, expect the No.1 position to change a lot more this year............

  • Comment number 33.

    The world rankings are nonsense.
    They should reflect the most in-form player over a 12 month period – not 24 months.
    I didn’t see anyone stateside, complaining about Woods being at #1 when he hadn’t won a tournament in nearly two years.
    Americans love winners – dominant winners – what they can’t accept is they don’t have one right now and if you take Woods out of the equation, the next nearest you have to one is Mickelson.

    When Harrington won back to back majors he didn’t become world number one.

    It’s not just the majors that carry extra points – as it has already been pointed out - most US tour events carry more points than their equivalent European tour events.

    Technology has levelled the playing field too much - now any given player on a hot round, on the final day of a tournament can win.

    If golf courses are set up so that they reward accuacy over distance things might look a little different

  • Comment number 34.

    A superb article Iain which hits the nail on the head about the rankings system...it does not need to change,the change as you indicate has been the greater depth at the top with no truly dominant player. As a Brit living in the US I'm getting rather sick of the grumpy ( and frankly pathetic) comments from the US golf media (and Faldo) Just remember to send them a link to this piece and hopefully they'll shut up....By the way,were there three American golfers at the top then I doubt whether we'd hear such complaints.Sadly there still persists an unpleasant arrogance about US golf.Time they grew up.

  • Comment number 35.

    The system is fair. Majors are indeed major, but anyone claiming the legacy of a golfer or ranking of a current player is anomylous unless they have one is wrong. Whilst they are the indesputable summits of the sport, Colin Montgomerie, Westwood and Donald as examples are all finer players than Grady, Curtis, Hamilton, Campbell, Michaeel and Mize to name but six, and everybody knows it.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thank you, I have been trying to set out a letter with all the points you raise to the golf channel..but could never have explained it anywhere near as concise as you have donr

  • Comment number 37.

    Try reading the article next time. Tennis and Golf have very different ranking systems. In Tennis it's a total aggregate system, more tournaments mean more points.

    In Golf it is an average system, more tournaments do not mean more points. Additionally weaker tournaments earn less points, it is pretty much impossible to work the Golf rankings like you can the tennis ones.

    Hackerjack,

    I'm not comparing tennis to golf. I'm comparing the attitude of players. If Lee Westwood had stared down Brad Snedeker and more importantly, Luke Donald at the pressure-soaked Heritage and not sneaked in some cheap points at the Indonesian Masters, I would have no complaints.

  • Comment number 38.

    Surely the answer is to reward winning a tournament more than just "finishing" it.

    A bit like the changes to the points system in F1, a win has to be worth more valuable than a high "points" finish.

  • Comment number 39.

    There are a number of issues with not just this system, but with pro golf in general.

    1. It's very existence - another lame marketing concept from IMG.
    2. It, like the PGA tour over rewards those who attend golf tournaments rather than compete. Keep the purses as they are for the top 10 and cut the rest by 50 percent. We need to eliminate the procession of mediocre millionaires that the increase in tournament purses has created.
    3. Ranking points only are awarded for top 10's or top 25's in majors
    4. Invoke the McCord Rule - (just google Gary McCord and Ben Hogan) if you are on the PGA Tour for five years and don't win, you have to go back to Q School to remind you what pressure is and how to close.
    5. Eliminate all the stupid exemptions - you play your way on and off the tour.
    6. Excepting the tournaments before and after a major - every player has to play every other regular season event within three seasons on tour, or be listed as placed last and this added to your World Ranking.

    The person that can tee it up anywhere, not receiving appearance money and compete and win events shall be the best player in the world.

  • Comment number 40.

    So what we should do, from what the reaction is, is that keep a major winner as No.1 even though their form is not consistent enough, Mickelson doesn't play a big year anymore due to family and Woods isn't as consistent. And then hold the likes of Westwood and Donald as No.2 until they win a major. So what if they don't perform for 4 weeks out of 52, they must be doing something right for the other 48. Remember Westwood was outside the top 200 and appeared gone, to get to where he is today is great advertising for the game.

  • Comment number 41.

    Good article, but I cannot understand why golf tournaments are not simply weighted by who plays in them. eg. If the Players has a stronger field than the US or British Open then the number of points allocated shoud reflect that.
    I'm sure that happens quite often too! It should not be too difficult to work out world rankings simply on who does the best in the strongest field regardless whether it's a Major or a tournament in Indonisia. A publicised weightings category for each tournament might also provide an additional advertising catch for the best tournaments.

  • Comment number 42.

    An excellent article with many valid and considered opinions posted. Until Manchester United win the Premier League ( and who knows?), Chelsea are and remain the champions based on their consistency over the previous season and deservedly so! Maybe the answer is to award 'No 1' status at the conclusion of a full season. We all see the fluctuations throughout the season and have opinions on who's the best...that's the excitement. golf's system is fair...value needs to be given to the top spot!

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi, interesting post, with a lot of interesting comments.

    I am English but have recently moved to the U.S. I work in the golf business so therefore get to speak to a lot of the american golfing public. I can tell you that the argument is the same over here. Some saying Westwood earned the top spot fair and square and others saying, that without a major win you can't be number 1. Some argue the system works and others saying it needs to be changed.

    The same debate is a daily topic on the golf channel's various shows. Usually opinions are split 50/50 and they agree to disagree. It's fun to debate, they do it, we watch it, we debate it some more.

    The one thing the U.S. loves most is a great Sunday afternoon showdown, which we've had plenty of so far in 2011. Mainly due to the deep field of on form players from all corners of the globe. Mickelson, Schwartzel, Westwood, Donald, Scott and plenty more.

  • Comment number 44.

    Much of the problem is of course that there isn't a world tour a la tennis. The ATP rankings make sense because the players are on a level playing field where they are obliged to play a certain number of tournaments and the tournaments have a clearly identified hierarchy. Were that to be the case in golf I suspect much of the carping would disappear. That much said, tennis has also had its fair share of "problem" number 1s who haven't won majors.

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree with @littleseve that the Americans and especially their media really like to have a dominant #1 that they can all cheer. They don't even have to be American as long as they're flamboyant - look at Norman. Another big issue is that they like to have the #1 playing in their tournaments week in, week out and not turning up in obscure places like Indonesia... or Europe. Hard to advertise one of the more obscure PGA tournaments when you have the world #7, #12 and #18 players because there is a big event going on in Europe.

  • Comment number 46.

    The No 1 spot is what the top golfers all strive to attain. Most have moved past the point where the money is the driver. It's all about achieving the pinnacle of the profession - the best in the world! Getting there is a problem - but staying there is a real test at the moment. But having watched the players, we're blessed with a rich seam of European talent at the moment - a few who would deserve that spot! Tiger was and remains a rare talent and doubtless he will return to a higher level. But he is now going to have to fight very hard to beat the top Europeans - long may this situation remain. It's great to watch on the TV every week. I'm enthralled.

  • Comment number 47.

    For me TOO MUCH is made of winning a major. As mentioned, winning one provides the highest number of ranking points anyway, so what's the beef there ? Should winners of majors 5 years ago still have that recognised ? What if they've not won a tournament since ? The Rankings are effectively about consistency - and the bottom line is that Lee has been the - or one of the - most consistent golfers in the world over the past 2 years. He hasn't won a major - and may never do - but noone can tell me that Todd Hamilton will go down in history as a better golfer than Lee Westwood "because he won a major". Can someone contradict that ?
    I'm afraid this is all too typical of the Americans - looking at the list and wondering how come there's only 3 or 4 of their golfers in the Top 10. What a scandal eh ?
    In summary Lee deserves the top spot - everyone of the 2000 pro golfers are playing to the smae rules.

  • Comment number 48.

    This all came up when Westy first went to No1. Points they seem to be missing is that:
    a) Even if majors had attracted an even higher premium, it would not have made too much difference because of the variety in the number of winners in recent years
    b) Westwood was highly placed in several majors - are they saying you get no points for anything other than 1st
    c) if it was based on majors won in the past, Jack Nicklaus would still be the world's best golfer
    d) because of the averaging Woods stayed at no 1 for longer than perhaps he should have, simply by not actually playing in tournaments. Had he played soon after his 'troubles' it is likely that he would have earned no points yet the tournaments played would have been included in the divisor. Eventually not playing catches up because of the minimum divisor of 40, but in 2010 Woods was a beneficiary of the system. Similarly for big Phil when he took time off during his wife's illness. It was this that prevent Harrington getting to no 1. No-one accused Woods and Mickleson of manipulating the system (and rightly so) by not playing

    As in tennis the system rewards consistency over two years and high placings, not necessarily one-off high profile major wins. As Iain points out, a high place in a major gets more points than winning a relatively minor tour event.

    It must also be borne in mind that not all players get the chance to compete for Major points e.g some of the world's current best golfers can't compete in the Masters at Augusta since the field is limited and places go to past winners, however lowly in the ranking they currently sit.

  • Comment number 49.

    The arguement should be, why is golf biased towards America and Americans even though it is an increasingly global game. It is wrong that 3/4 of the majors and all WGC events are based in the USA. This gives their golfers home support and an unfair knowledge of the courses. Yet Americans don't like loosing and will blame everything rather than the fact that beyond Woods and Mickelson they are struggling to find a new champion. They want a world series like basebell in which only North American teams take part!

  • Comment number 50.

    Westwood has been the most consistent player over the last two years and in 2010, although he never won a major, he did well in all of them. He has done consistantly well in majors without winning them and fully deserves the no.1. With more ranking points for majors, i'd guess the one hit wonders of immelman and oosthuizen, who have done nothing else, would be further up in your opinions, although they are quite clearly a standard below westwood, donald and kaymer who consistently perform well at the top level in all tournements.
    Best, most consistent player over the last 2 years = westwood

  • Comment number 51.

    Lee Westwood has clearly achieved the points getting him to the top ranked position. In motor racing, achieving second or even third place in every race will produce a championship winner. This is how the invidious Alternative Voting system will work.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think the rankings strike just about the right balance. If you weigh them too heavily toward the Majors, you would not only end up with Padraig Harrington and Mark O'Meara as world number ones from past years (which some may agree with) but how about Justin Leonard in 1997, or Lucas Glover in 2009? They also won more points in majors than anyone else those years, but I don't recall anyone ever championing them as world number one.

    In fact, Westwood earnt almost as many points in the majors last year (with two second places) as anyone else - Mickelson had a win, a 4th place and a 12th, and Kaymer a win, a 7th and an 8th. That he then earnt more points overall than anyone else, taking into account performances on Tour, makes him a worthy number one, albeit one (as has been recognised) with a very low average, compared to some number ones (or even twos or threes) from the past. It's not Lee's fault that Tiger Woods didn't win two majors and eight other events last year, and end up with an average of 20, like he has done in the past.

    It's true that in the past every other number one has been a major champion, but not true to say that they were major champions before they got to number one - Woosnam wasn't in 1991, nor was David Duval in 1999. In retrospect, when those players went on to become major winners, the discussion about their merit as a world number one went away - and that's somewhere I'm certain Lee more than anyone wants to find himself over the summer.

  • Comment number 53.

    Mr. Carter,

    I would like your thoughts on this.

    Westwood won the Indonesian Open to return to #1. Donald lost in a playoff. I am sure you will agree that the Indonesian Open is a "smaller" tournament, where the field is not as strong as the main tournament of that particular week. And ranking points are lesser in the "smaller" tournament.

    What happens if a golfer continues to play in tournaments where the field is not as strong, but wins or does very well? And another golfer, playing in the main weekly tournament, loses in a playoff one week, wins a big tournament some months ago, mostly in the top-15? But the golfer who wins these less-than-main tournaments get more points?

    Luke Donald deserves to be #1. Westwood has done nothing these past months. I am waiting for pgatour.com to update itself. If a win at the Indonesian Open brings more points than a playoff loss at the Heritage, would you then agree that the ranking system is flawed? Could someone then not play tournament with weaker fields and be #1?


  • Comment number 54.

    Lets not kid ourselves. Lee Westwood maybe the world No 1 purely because he plays more tournament than the best two players out there Tiger and Mickleson.

    At this moment in time I would say there are at least 6 of not 8 players playing better that Westwood on a week by week basis. This excludes Tiger who can barely play but still challenge. Very few can do that.

    So far in 2011 Luke Donald is Europes and the world best players but again the Golf rankings would be diminished if he becomes No 1. A bit like ladies golf there is little point having majors if the best players or No 1 player in the world can rack up points by not winning the big tournaments.

    Lets us not kid ourselves winning in Indonesain is not the same as winning on both the European/US tours. The rankings do need overhauled.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think the system works, essentially. The one modification I would add is to have alloted times in the year that the world number one is officially titled rather than this weekly obsession.

    So perhaps the first point is on January 1st, the second point is the day after The Masters, again after the final major of the year and lastly after the Fed-Ex. These trigger points acknowledge the importance of recognising the World number one whilst also recognising the importance of the majors and their relevance in the role they play in crowning the 'new number 1' and by chucking in the Fed-Ex will keep the American's happy!

  • Comment number 56.

    The same system that identified Woods as world number one for a total of 623 weeks (when no one had an argument against it) is the one that has Westwood as world number one now - so why should we dispute its verdict?"

    Because Woods won majors, that's why.

    Westwood may be No. 1 according to a computer formula, but he'll never be No. 1 in the other ways--in terms of attracting big galleries, of sending that unmistakeable buzz through the crowd on Sunday afternoons, of boosting TV ratings and in general being a global star. Westwood's the damp squib No. 1, a perfect representation of England's low standard of athleticism for what, the last 60 years? He spit the bit at the British Open and the Masters and can't win in America unless someone else completely chokes.

    What's funny is that the English press bashes American golfers for skipping the British Open but when it comes to Westwood ducking great fields here all of a sudden we're not supposed to judge; after all it's a business decision on his part and butt out America! LOL. Hypocrisy much?

  • Comment number 57.

    i think the ogwr point system should be set more like F1

    all events have the same points scoring system which is alot fairer

    you get to see whos leading throughout the season but its at the end of the year you get to see whos crowned world number 1, which normally means consistancy unlike golf where someone could be off there game e.g martin kaymer.. but still be sitting number 2? in f1 if there off there game they tend to slip further down the points system than sitting near the top

  • Comment number 58.

    @Scottnyc

    A little rich for an American to be lolling about athleticism. Also if you tried to follow Westwood in Europe you would find his galleries are invariably packed. Likewise much of the strength of the PGA tour is that so many Europeans and other internationals do choose to play it on a consistent basis. Other than that, there isn't very much wrong with your arguments besides pointing out that Westwood didn't choke at the Masters - he was beaten by a man playing sublime golf.

  • Comment number 59.

    56. At 13:41pm 26th Apr 2011, ScottNYC wrote:
    ...

    What's funny is that the English press bashes American golfers for skipping the British Open but when it comes to Westwood ducking great fields here all of a sudden we're not supposed to judge; after all it's a business decision on his part and butt out America! LOL. Hypocrisy much?

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The English press bashes Americans for only playing in America, not just for skipping the Open Championship - and I don't believe Westwood was 'ducking fields'.


    Back on topic... ;-)


    As someone else has already alluded to, part of the problem is that the US public don't see Lee Westwood week-in, week-out. As I understand it, he has not taken up membership of the PGA Tour due to the increased amount of time he would be away from home (the UK, in Europe) to maintain his membership given the high event requirements (15?), and therefore he plays mainly on the European Tour, but also in the US with the 3 majors, plus 3 WGC events and other invites (at least 8 events I would think) - and where these tours also differ is their approach to spreading golf around the world.

    The European Tour is now a world tour in all but name - yes, the Malaysian tournament had a lesser field, and yes, the points available were less - but the European Tour continues to grow and improve because these events showcase it, and encourage more people into the sport, and this approach can only be commended. You need marquee names to attract sponsors, etc., and contrary to what ScottNYC believes, Lee Westwood falls into this category around the world. This early-season period takes place in more obscure locations, but it is still the European Tour - the fact that many players opt not to compete, or go and compete in the US instead, is ultimately their choice, and the points on offer reflect that.

    As a by-product, these events give others an opportunity for experience, where high-points events every week cannot - Charl Schwartzl, the latest major winner, got valuable experience and exposure to this when the Sunshine Tour met the European Tour as it does every winter. Would someone like Matteo Manassero have been able to grow playing only on one continent on the PGA Tour, or has the variety of the European Tour destinations added to his game and confidence?

  • Comment number 60.

    Yes Nick should educate himself with the Rankings system, it gives considerable weight to Majors vs the majority of tour events, and quite correctly deminishes scores over the qualifying period of 2 years. As for all those people going on and on about Major wins ... sure but isn't it a fact that most of the Pro's on there day can win we all go thru purple patches .... Westwood / Donald / Casey / McIlroy just happened to have not played there best yet at a Major. I'm sure one of them will win a Major soon ...

  • Comment number 61.

    "The English press bashes Americans for only playing in America, not just for skipping the Open Championship"

    This begs 2 questions. Why do the English care where Americans play? And how is it any of their business?

  • Comment number 62.

    ScottNYC: Maybe because they want to see the world's top golfers playing in the biggest tournaments around the world. In much the same way as you making where Westwood plays your 'business'.

  • Comment number 63.

    @stottnyc

    "The English press bashes Americans for only playing in America, not just for skipping the Open Championship"

    This begs 2 questions. Why do the English care where Americans play? And how is it any of their business?

    I believe you were the one who brought up the point about ducking tournaments. It was a rather neat riposte and also a subtle correction to your own "British Open" statement. To correct you one more time, it is the British press and not the English press.

  • Comment number 64.

    Why is Woods still in the worlds top ten? Apparent from a couple of good laps at Augusta in 2010 and 2011, which is like a monthly medal for the stripy won, he's done nothing. The rankings must be flawed!

  • Comment number 65.

    62
    Actually I care not at all where Lee Westwood plays. I'm simply throwing British rhetoric right back at you to highlight your hypocrisy. Westwood could never play again on the PGA Tour and no one would miss him. He could skip the U.S. Open this year and maybe 2 American reporters would even bother reporting on it, with no judgments made either way about his decision. Whereas the British press would throw an absolute hissy fit if, say, Sean O'Hair skipped the British Open this year. Doesn't take much to wind you guys up does it?

  • Comment number 66.

    #65: I certainly don't get 'wound up' over golf rankings, but usually enjoy the debate. Guess we'll have to wait and see on your Sean O'Hair example, but the only 'hissy fits' I've seen recently are US ones over Westwood gaining the #1 ranking by winning a tournament outside the US. The Asian events are only going to gain in importance as time goes on, so the US press may have to stop looking down on events like the Indonesian Masters.

  • Comment number 67.

    In short, WELL SAID! It is about time someone spoke out against these idiotic Americans that can't see past Tiger and Phil. Westwood may not have won a major but he has dominated over the last year or so and played the best golf of anyone. If another American was in top spot I dont think you would hear such grumblings.

  • Comment number 68.

    It isnt enthralling at all Iain, it is garbage. Based on recent years result in normal tourneys, WGC and majors, Kaymer should still be number 1, also how many points was available to Indonesia Masters last weekend when basically it was Westood vs Jaidee. It is a joke

  • Comment number 69.

    On the suggestion that a player could become world number one just by playing in "minor" events, that simply isn't true. Almost all events outside the US and European PGA tours are worth only between 12 to 20 ranking points to the winner, so yes, in theory a Ryo Ishikawa for example could achieve an average points rating of say 10, enough to take number one at the moment, but in order to do so he'd have to win 10 of those a season and finish runner-up in the other 10 he entered (and, presumably, maintain an average of 10 points in any WGC or majors he entered as well, which means about a 6th-place finish at worst).

    It's worth reiterating that the rankings are completely geographically neutral - tournaments' weightings depend entirely on who's in the field, not where they're played. This week's BMW PGA Championship is going to have a bumper points pot available, because all the world's top three and a fair proportion of the top 50 are in it. It's likely, indeed, that whoever out of Westwood, Kaymer and Donald finishes ahead of the others at Wentworth will take the number one spot, and if someone like McDowell or Casey wins it, they'll promote themselves up into second or third place.

  • Comment number 70.

    Sorry, I meant of course next month's PGA Championship not this week's - getting my bank holidays mixed up in the excitement of so many European players vying for the number one spot!

  • Comment number 71.

    #56: ScottNYC:
    As a relatively close neighbour to you, it is striking the extent to which / depths you plunge to espouse the stereotypical American view.
    I don't always agree with Iain Carter, but your senseless diatribe sums up exactly what he states in his penultimate paragraph.

    Ironic that you choose to use Sean O'Hair's name; if not for the grace of the R&A, O'Hair would have been disqualified from last year's Open Championship for delaying resumption of play after the high wind delay of Round 2. Apparently he was so absorbed in playing video games he didn't realise play was to restart and caused a ten-minute delay. O'Hair seems to be a good guy but in that instance it was a pity he didn't get thrown out.

  • Comment number 72.

    Ok, lets talk Lee Westwood and majors, in the last 8 majors, Lee has come 23rd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 16th, 2nd, (injured) and 11th. If we say on his injured PGA he would have come an average of the other 7, Lee averages 8th place. Martin kaymer averages 32nd and Luke Donald averages 45th- who says that the world rankings dont take enough account of the Majors? If teh ranking points for Majors were increased by 25% across the board You cant just reward more for winning) then Lee would be far further ahead of Martn and Luke.

  • Comment number 73.

    You could infact argue that the US Masters should get less points than the average tournament as has it not always been a tournament for the priveleged few ? - ie it is a restricted field and ex champions who have no chance of winning are allowed to play . Therefore it is statistically an easier tournament to pick up points in . Compare it to the Open where any golfer in the world has a chance of playing in it . ( via all the qualifying events )

  • Comment number 74.

    #54 'Lets not kid ourselves. Lee Westwood maybe the world No 1 purely because he plays more tournament than the best two players out there Tiger and Mickleson'

    That's taken care of by averaging over tournaments played. So playing more often does not necessarily help the average score - it can make it worse! Indeed, not playing when injured or 'off- form' keeps the average higher than it might otherwise have been.

    Also #54 'Lets us not kid ourselves winning in Indonesain is not the same as winning on both the European/US tours'

    That's why, as Iain pointed out, it attracts far fewer ranking points.

    All ScottNYC: don't fully follow your apparent underlying assumption that US PGA events are of inherently higher quality than events outside US. They certainly are not. They might attract more prize money, but in some weeks the field looks pretty weak.

  • Comment number 75.

    Fortunately sense is starting to prevail... Scottbo making the most glaringly astute point of all in that the Majors are important and weighted appropriately; Westwood has played them very well but just not won one.
    #54 You say there are 8 players better than Lee at the moment... but the rankings are over 2 years so I agree with you but that doesn't affect the rankings. However, do you propose a better period of time to judge? Perhaps a week? Than Snedeker can be World no. 1 this week! I thought the 'issue' was the #1 position being 'traded by stock'?
    Overall a good system where without Tiger's dominance (a good thing) we have up to 10 players gunning for #1 spot (another good thing) and it just happens to be Lee's turn!

  • Comment number 76.

    Thanks CFC, agree, if we look short term we just get a view of form, not class - for example, if Owen came on for united and scored the only hat trick in the premier league would that make him the best player in the country - I think not, he's just had a good game/on a run of form. Does anyne know how the raking points for each tournament are calculated? That might be where the problem lies, if you beat the best players in the world you should and do get the highest points, it just so happens tha the majors draw the best fields and therefoe the winners shudl get the most points! Lee only won 20 points on Sunday, it just happens to be a small tournament he wanted to support, Luke would have won 50 for the heritage but he didnt win! They both chose where to play and provided it is clear to us as watchers how the points are claculated we can form our own judgements.

  • Comment number 77.

    Scottbo - not sure any of the players truly build a schedule around becoming World #1. They have sponsor considerations, supporting their tour (LW - Europe, LD - US), family commitments etc and a desire to win majors ultimately. A combination of all brings about the respective rankings which is the by-product not the goal... I think. As the players didn't devise the system I'm not sure it's for anyone to criticise Lee Westwood or any other player ever.

  • Comment number 78.

    Perhaps we have all missed the point as far as the players are concerned - Westwood and Donald themselves would surely trade #1 spot for a few majors and Kaymer for a few more. No-one can fault their (or others) effort, desire and motivation to win every tournament they enter, however big. I've sure they are not that motivated by the ranking system itself and I doubt that they enter events just because of the impact they'd have on the rankings. Or am I being naive?

    It would be good to get the players' honest view here - perhaps BBC journalists could find out!

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 - we seemed to make the same point at exactly the same time - spooky!

  • Comment number 80.

    #79 - filling in time before some dinner?

  • Comment number 81.

    I see a lot of anti-American sentiment in the comments below, and some of it is justified, but a large bit I think is a bit OTT. As an American, I can say that in the realm of golf, Faldo, Bassesteros, Player, Langer, Norman and others were all enormously liked in America, and rightly acknowledged as superb and dominant golfers. I don't feel it's so much jingoism that is displayed in the American (and Faldo's) comments as a geral lack of a truly outstanding and apparent #1 golfer.

    As my #6 post, I think the biggest problem with the #1 contenders is they don't seem to feel like #1's--they don't dominate tournaments (especially majors), and there isn't a current golfer--European, American, Australian, doesn't matter--that seems worthy to be rated head and shoulders above the field. For instance, if Kaymer had continued his run from last year to this, i.e. contended at the Masters, had a few more wins elsewhere, you would not have heard the acrimony that is now prevelant.

    Would the American press and public want one of there own to be #1? Certaninly, but I think no more than the European press and public wanting one of there own. Furthermore, I don't think either group would want it if it wasn't deserving--i.e. if Woods was still ranked #1, you would see a fair amount of American public and press decrying the fact, as he clearly is no longer the dominant golfer in the sport.

    As to the bias of PGA rankings compared to other tours, there is a bit of a point, but again I think it is generally (not in every instance, but generally) a more prestigious tour--i.e. stronger feilds week in / week out. A bit like the arguments that can be made about the relative strengths in Football between EPL, Budesliga, La Liga, Serie A. And in similar fashion, EPL may be best leauge, but Barca may be best team.

  • Comment number 82.

    #81 Not sure what your real point is... no one 'feels like #1'? Seems you are advocating a dominant no.1 (again) yet which is better for the game? With the rankings so close and interchangeable - is it because the #1 is poorer or because no.s 2 to 10 are getting better?

  • Comment number 83.

    Excellent article. I am gobsmacked at Sir Faldo's ignorance of the system. It is nice to see that a Major carries 5 times the points of an Asian Tour event.
    Indeed, at his peak Tiger had an over 20 point average and Mickelson only 10, so in fact the 1000th ranked player was closer to 2nd place than Mickelson was to Tiger - and no-one complained about that! Westwood, Kaymer & Donald fully deserve their position at the pinnacle of the game.

  • Comment number 84.

    To Jim Pillock, 28, not sure where you are coming from or going to. Don't think Westwood cares and judging by tweets from the other players he is held in high esteem and deserves to ne number one,

    Like your comment no 83

  • Comment number 85.

    cfcboy23

    Probably a bit of both--#1 a bit poorer, #2-10 a bit better. And I would say having a stong top ten without a dominant #1 is better.

    But, the point I makiing (albeit poorly and rather round about) is that I think the turmoil about Faldo's and some of the press' comments has it's roots in there being no clear cut #1; calling some to question the ratings.

  • Comment number 86.

    65. ScottNYC / Time to grow up and think before you post.You write like a child who can't get his way.

    The truth is Americans just cannot face the fact that it's three Europeans at the top of the world rankings.Bad losers...always have been,always will be.

  • Comment number 87.

    "the banal parkland tracks" BLAHAHAH The us has the best courses in the world. Resort courses in the states are wayyy better then the pastures of scotland www.gcgr.comwww.theboulders.com www.thephoenician.com www.wekopa.com www.erinhills.com www.destinationkohler.com I could go on forever.......
    "Americans just cannot face the fact that it's three Europeans at the top of the world rankings.Bad losers...always have been,always will be." But American aren't losers...they have the freedom of speech, have no official state religion, invent more than the entire EU combined, have higher income then Brits, LOWER CRIME RATES....and the best golf
    the toughest courses are in the states, the highest rated bring Erin hills.

  • Comment number 88.

    The same system that identified Woods as world number one for a total of 623 weeks (when no one had an argument against it) is the one that has Westwood as world number one now - so why should we dispute its verdict? Tiger was winning everything in sight-majors USPGA, not mediocre Indonesian masters. He deserved to be number one on merit. Kaymer, Donald, Westwood are mediocre players. Nepotism and favouritism aside, Ian as a golf enthusiast should know they are not on the same planet as Woods nor will anyone ever be, now or near future.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think that Westwood is the best striker of a ball in the world at the moment, Donald is the best from 50 yards in and Kaymer is a good mixture of the two. In the future, I see Kaymer, who is much younger than the others and can still develop, being one of the best in the world...but McIlroy will be there with him, he just needs to be taught the art of pressure play.

  • Comment number 90.

    Gus, you're engaged in what psychologists call "projection." I simply state my opinion and you immediately start in on the personal insults, which is the British way. It is you who is the toddler spitting out his pacifier. Everything I wrote is backed up by fact, particularly the part that surely hurt your feelings, Britain's low standard of athleticism. The truth does hurt doesn't it. As for being bad losers you guys wrote the book on that. Well more specifically Mark James did, with his 300-page opus I'll call the Whine At Brookline. LOL

  • Comment number 91.

    @ScottNYC.
    What is your problem? You seriously have some issues that need addressing here. It is remarks like yours that facilitate the need to all this pointless drivel. Can we please get back to enjoying the game of Golf? Jack Nicklaus said it best when broaching the subject of the Ryder Cup, It is a good will match. Americans are the best in the world at American football and Baseball, Please lets the rest of the world have there moment of glory just for a short while.

  • Comment number 92.

    Sorry, Their and not there.

  • Comment number 93.

    His problem is that the British (and the English in particular) are very good at resorting to insults and denigration when there is an opposing point of view.

    Unfortunately, this is a fact.

  • Comment number 94.

    Hurray! Westwood wins another tournament :)

  • Comment number 95.

    I think the ranking system should take "the quality of the field" into account. Let me explain.
    One reason why Westwood won there was may be I dare say that he was playing against less calibred players.
    If Donald or Michelson or Kaymer or Mcdowell or even Jason Day had played, would he have won? to get 20 point to get him to the top?
    I dont see any players at the Indonesian Masters who are raked top 10 for example, except of course Westwood.

    Maybe I am saying a 20 point credit is too many for this event.
    The points should be given according to the strength of the field.

  • Comment number 96.

    Kaymer missed cut at masters, mcdowell not playing well and missed another cut this weekend. If we had more points for majors then westwood would be further ahead, with his 2 seconds in 2010. Johnson, poulter, els all good players plus jimenez and a number inside the top 50, the usa event has a good field, but also had alot of players outside the top 50. Is jason Day suddenly in the world class category?

  • Comment number 97.

    He's at #23. So yes, Day is a world class player. After all, we all love the ranking system, right?

    If the ranking system reflects performance over a rolling 2 year period, shouldn't Woods be higher up? Consider May 200 9 till now. He had multiple wins in 2009. I remember him winning before each major and he won the two weeks prior to the 2009 US PGA (where he led and lost to Yang). He has barely played in 2010 and this year. I wish I knew how this ranking system works.

    As for Westwood, good to see him win two great back-to-back tourneys (with "world class" fields) :p

  • Comment number 98.

    For a decade and a half the brilliance of Woods masked the failure of the golfing authorities to address the damage done to the game by the levelling effect of golf technology (big headed drivers / shafts / balls ) . The winner of the Masters in April only needed short irons to play the back nine at Augusta.

    Now we have a situation where there are 500 players who could win the Open in July if they were invited to play and if there was a favourable wind.

    In these circumstances it's no surprise that every Major throws up a new winner and that plenty of players in the world top 50 haven't won a Major. I don't see this changing any time soon.

    In the meantime, let's celebrate Westwood's achievements and wish him a favourable wind at Sandwich in July!

  • Comment number 99.

    full credit to Westwood, Miguel, Monty, players that stayed on the european tour and done so much to promote golf in europe and asia, when they could have sold out to the uspga for more money and ranking points. Westwood played and won in Indonesia (for a small number of ranking points he probably doesn't care too much about) preparing to play and win in Korea; he has committed to the European tour so do you expect him to fly to the opposite side of the world every week to play against the strongest field possible?

    The strength of the european tour has increased hugely because of this, reflected by Europe now dominating the world rankings and winning the Ryder cup, but it is still very rare to see Americans competing on our tour - good to see Dustin Johnson making the effort

    Faldo is knocking Westwood / McIlroy for missing the Players, but does not seem to acknowledge the european tour at all.

    Having all 12 of our Ryder cup winners competing against each other at Wentworth plus the likes of Mannessero,Quiros,Schwartzel will be an amazing event, how many of USA's Ryder cup losers will be here to compete in a field this strong...?

  • Comment number 100.

    Indeed, Westwood does golf a great favour by playing on all continents. His 2011 record on the US tour has not been particularly brilliant. No win in 2001, not even coming close. Why is this the case? Compare that with Luke Donald.

    Whilst I agree that Lee's been the most consistent golfer the past 2 years, if the ranking takes into account performance over a 2 year period, how can McIlroy be ranked higher than Woods, given that Woods had a decent 2009 (no major) and has barely played in 2010 and 2011? With 6 wins in 2009, I believe Woods still has the most number of wins in the past 2 years. And apart from the missed cut at the 2009 Open, his record at majors the past 2 years is decent.

    I firmly believe that we ought to have rankings based on a 12-month period.

 

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