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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Finally -- an Actual Battle for #1!

The clash of weapons is silenced. Breezes slowly clear the smoke from the battlefield... and out onto the open plaine step four lone warriors, each armed for battle...

(This photo's been everywhere, but I linked to the copy at this Devil Ball post.)

Ok, maybe that's a bit dramatic. But is it that far wrong? This may end up being one of the most exciting World Golf Championships we've ever seen for this one simple reason:

The outcome could actually mean something for a change.

We have four players at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in China who could take #1 in the Official World Golf Rankings if they win. I probably don't need to tell you who they are... but I will:
  • Lee Westwood
  • Tiger Woods
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Martin Kaymer
Let's size up these four warriors:
  • Lee Westwood has just taken the #1 slot without firing a shot. Hell, he hasn't even played in nearly a month, so the accusations that he "backed into" the title are fair. But while he hasn't won a major yet, and he only won a single tournament this year, the OWGR values consistency as much (if not more) than victories. Lee has without question been the most consistent of the four for the last two years, so it's still fair to say he earned the position... but it's time to prove it, and he knows it.
  • Tiger Woods has been MIA all year, and we won't pretend that it wasn't his fault. But it looks like Tiger has learned that he is just as human as the rest of us, and that's certainly not a bad thing for him to know. As the dethroned #1, he's got something to prove also.
  • At least Phil Mickelson won a major this year before personal illness (yes, that now-notorious arthritic condition) pretty much screwed him over for the year. But the fact remains that he had 12 -- count 'em, 12 -- chances to take the #1 position, many of them simply by posting a par round... and he couldn't do it. Oh yeah, he's got something to prove!
  • And Martin Kaymer has arguably played the best of the four this year, nabbing 4 wins -- 3 of them in a row, and one of those a major. He's moved up to #3 in the OWGR, less than .3 behind Westwood. But he's seemed a bit flat over the last month. Yes, I guess he's got something to prove as well.
Now, contrary to popular belief, I'm not so sure any of these guys is the favorite to win. Let me remind you that the field includes:
  • Graeme McDowell, who's had a decent year of his own and is coming off a win;
  • Luke Donald, with a Euro Tour win;
  • Ernie Els, with 2 wins (one a WGC);
  • Robert Allenby, who is waaaay overdue for a win, given his play this year;
  • Rory McIlroy, with his first PGA Tour win; and
  • Hunter Mahan, who's also got a WGC this year
just to name a few of the contenders with realistic chances to win this thing.

But Tiger seems to have his game back on track, the reports on Phil are saying that they've finally gotten his medicine right (have had it right for about a month, if I understood the reports, and he says he finally feels good), Westwood says he's rusty from resting his calf but that he's been told he won't hurt it by playing, and Kaymer would love to be only the second German (Bernhard Langer is the other) to be #1.

Like I said, this could be the most exciting tournament we'll see until Augusta 2011. Here's the link to the HSBC Champions online leaderboard. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Being on the west coast is great this weekend. I don't have to stay up until midnight to start watching the coverage. Starts at 9PM for me. Gives me plenty of time to get some rest before my round tomorrow morning:-D