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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: September 2011

The majors are finally done and the FedExCup playoffs are underway. It's going to be harder for players to make big jumps in the RGWR now because most of the really high-ranking tournaments are over. Still, things could start to hop if a player gets hot -- just take a good look at Keegan Bradley, with 2 wins in roughly 3 months.

On the other hand, a few players with multiple wins like Jhonattan Vegas and Martin Kaymer (say it ain't so, Marty!) have dropped out of the rankings simply because they haven't won in over 6 months. They need to get back to what got them here in the first place -- WIN!

As usual, these are the RGWG criteria:
I focus on the last 12 months of play -- that's long enough to see some consistency but short enough to be current. Every player in the RGWR won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. The OWGR rates consistency over the last 2 years, so I see no reason to rank that; my RGWR says if you're a top player, you've won somewhere recently. My priority list (based on quality of field) looks like this:
  1. majors, TPC (PGAT), BMW PGA (ET), and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai)
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form, and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness. I'm even willing to cut you a little slack for illnesses like "major win hangover" and "new gal Friday syndrome." Also, remember that I count Top5s as a separate category from wins; if you see a player has 3 Top5s, those are seconds through fifths only.

I assign points to tournaments this way:
  • Majors: 10 points
  • TPC & BMW PGA: 8 points (yes, I'm calling them equals!)
  • WGC: 7 points
  • Prestige events: 5 points
  • Regular wins: 3 points
  • Top 5 finishes: 2 points
I give full credit for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Asian Tours provided the winner has a current win on the PGA or European Tour. These wins will count only as "regular" wins and not "prestige" wins, no matter how prestigious they may be for their tour, because they generally don't have the strength of field of a regular PGA or ET event.

And because of a strange quirk on the ET site, I've decided I have to specifically state that a tournament win can only count once. Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, I'm just telling you that the RGWR says you can only win a tournament once at a time.

As usual, the point total (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings but doesn't override my personal opinions:
  1. Luke Donald: 3 wins (1 WGC, 1 BMW), 10 Top5, 38 points. The #1 player on the OWGR continues to rack up Top5s. Granted, he's still sans a major, but if he keeps putting himself into position...
  2. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 19 points. Lee remains right where he was last month. He too will have to wait for next year to make another major run.
  3. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 17 points. Well, #3 hasn't made any gains this past month either, but his Masters win is still new enough to carry weight. He's up one spot this month.
  4. Darren Clarke: 2 wins (1 major), 0 Top5, 13 points. Likewise, Darren's Open Championship win jacked him up another notch in my rankings. I don't expect much from him until next year... but as long as he waited for his major, I'm willing to let him party for a while.
  5. Keegan Bradley: 2  wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 4 Top5, 23 points. The rookie nabbed himself a major to go along with his win at the Nelson. He's a bit flat right now -- I suppose that's a major hangover. It's hard to believe he won't make the Presidents Cup team.
  6. Rory McIlroy: 1 win (1 major), 5 Top5, 20 points. The U.S. Open champ may be a bit distracted by his new main squeeze, Caroline Wozniacki, but he too gets a temporary pass.
  7. Adam Scott: 2 wins (1 WGC), 3 Top5, 18 points. Since getting Steve Williams on his bag, Adam seems to have found the final piece to his comeback. At this rate he may pick up a major of his own next year.
  8. Steve Stricker: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 12 points. Stricks is just entering the time of the year when he typically gets hot... and let's not forget he's one of the few multiple playoff event winners.
  9. Dustin Johnson: 2 wins (2 prestige), 5 Top5, 20 points. This may not last -- one of DJ's wins was in last year's playoffs. But if he's finally got his putting stroke back, his length off the tee may be the determining factor for the next month.
  10. Nick Watney: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 18 points. Nick's about due for another win, and he seems to prefer winning the big events.
Players to watch:
  • Sergio Garcia continues to post some good numbers, and his consistency is improving.
  • Vijay Singh made a little trip to the back doctor in Germany and it seems to have done the trick. If he keeps playing the way he has the last couple of weeks, I think he's got a chance to take the FedExCup again.
  • Padraig Harrington and Camilo Villegas have finally found their games. It's gonna be a long uphill climb, but both have made a good start.

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