ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: October 2010

Today I'm introducing the Ruthless Golf World Rankings. These rankings are totally unscientific and, while they make use of the OWGR and any other information I think is relevant, they represent what I and I alone think. Since it's my blog, that's really all that matters around here anyway. ;-D

However, note that every player on this list won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. I think 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, and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai)
  3. other PGA and ET events
This year, the Ryder Cup gives you extra credit if you did something special there. Most Americans are Top 10 on the Tour money list; most foreign players are Top 10 in the ET's equivalent, the Race to Dubai. I also put extra emphasis on recent form, and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness.

So here are my post-Ryder Cup choices for the best players in the world, based on their play over the last year with special emphasis on how they seem to be trending now:
  1. Lee Westwood: He has only one PGA win and no ET wins this year but he played well in the majors. He's #3 in the Race to Dubai despite playing only 11 events (most players have 17 or more events unless they're PGA members, which Lee is not). He reached #2 in the OWGR without even playing for 2 whole months, and a win at the Dunhill this week will make him #1. And when he came back for the Ryder Cup, he didn't miss a step. Westwood is pretty much a no-brainer for my #1.
  2. Steve Stricker: He picked up two PGA tour wins this year (winning at Riviera is big-time prestige), he's #5 on the money list, and will probably miss getting the Vardon Trophy for scoring by a paltry .02 strokes behind Matt Kuchar. (And he will miss; I think we all know he's gone hunting by now!) But I don't think there's any question that he's the best US player right now, which lands him in my #2 spot.
  3. Graeme McDowell: McDowell's been a bit erratic this year, but he's shown up at the big moments. He has two ET wins (yeah, our US Open counts as an ET win), he's #2 in the Race to Dubai, and his performance at the Ryder Cup was just unbelievable. (Yes, in addition to winning the Cup for Europe, I say he carried Rory McIlroy.) I believe he's joined the PGA Tour for next year; he could be a breakout player here as well.
  4. Martin Kaymer: With 3 big ET wins (yes, the PGA Championship counts as an ET event), a standout performance at the Ryder Cup, and being #1 in the Race to Dubai, Kaymer's the real deal. The heir-apparent to Bernhard Langer, he just may eclipse Langer's record with that gorgeous swing of his.
  5. Jim Furyk: Three wins -- including the Tour Championship -- second on the money list, and won the FedExCup trophy. Despite a poor week at the Ryder Cup, I don't think there's much question that he's the second-best American on tour right now.
  6. Dustin Johnson: At #4 on the money list and two wins (and very nearly four), D-John's two major near-misses -- and prompt bounceback performances -- are signs of great things to come. His singles match beatdown of Martin Kaymer didn't hurt his cause here.
  7. Miguel Angel Jiminez: He doesn't get any love from the OWGR (he's only #25 there) but he won 3 prestige events -- Dubai, the French Open, and the European Masters -- putting him #8 in the Race to Dubai, and then he showed up big at the Ryder Cup. Oh, and did I mention he's 46?
  8. Hunter Mahan: His year's been erratic like McDowell's, but Hunter's won twice on Tour this year -- one of them a WGC -- he's #10 on the money list, and he put on one heck of show in the final singles match at the Ryder Cup. He fought his way back from 3 down to 1 down before the pressure finally got him -- as Darth Vader would say, "Impressive. Very impressive." I expect him to play big next year.
  9. Luke Donald: He won the Madrid Masters on the ET, played extremely well through the FedExCup playoffs, got to #7 on the Tour money list and #13 in the Race to Dubai, then beat Jim Furyk in singles (a little revenge, perhaps?) and remained undefeated in foursomes at the Ryder Cup. He finally seems to have gotten over his wrist problems; I expect him to win on the PGA Tour next year.
  10. TIE:
    • Louis Oosthuizen: Although he's cooled off in the second half of this year, he's got 2 ET wins (one being the Open Championship) and he posted a 4th at the KLM Open just before the Ryder Cup. Slumps aren't unusual for first-time major winners, so he gets a pass for a couple of slow months. I expect him to get it going again soon, simply because (like Kaymer) he has such a simple effective swing.
    • Phil Mickelson: To be honest, Phil makes this list because of the Masters; I just don't see how I can leave a major winner off. It might be different if he was an unknown, but Phil has proven that he's not just a flash in the pan. Despite his so-so play, he's still #6 on the money list. His performance in Monday singles at the Ryder Cup tells me that the problem isn't his game, so I'm assuming he's still getting used to his arthritis meds. I'll reassess his position later on, but I know it can take several months to find an acceptable treatment.
That's right, folks -- no Tiger Woods and no Rory McIlroy. I'm encouraged by Tiger's improvement since he hooked up with Sean Foley, but with no wins this was a lost year for him. (Remember, I require a win to make my list.) And although McIlroy won the fairly prestigious Wells Fargo event and made a nice bounceback after that second round 80 at the Open Championship, he simply didn't play well enough to warrant a position on my list. (I'll say it again -- McDowell carried him during the Ryder Cup. And he could only halve against Cink in singles after Cink virtually gave him the match with a couple of missed putts. He'll get better, but he ain't Top 10 material yet.)

I seriously considered Ian Poulter and Zach Johnson (both had PGA wins -- Poulter's was a WGC -- and played well at the Ryder Cup), as well as Matt Kuchar (who will probably win the Vardon -- I think that's important -- but who didn't show up in Wales). But with only one win each, Phil's Masters easily beat them out. Several other players, like Ernie Els, played well early but fell off at the end of the season. Luke Donald also beat them out because he finished the season so strong.

I think my Top 5 are pretty much self-evident, although I'll admit there's some room for debate about 6-10,  I put D-John ahead of Jiminez because, although Jiminez had 3 prestige events to D-John's 1, D-John played much better in the majors. But I wouldn't be adverse to flipping the two, since 3 prestige wins is a big deal in any comparison.

Westwood, Stricker, McDowell, Kaymer, and Donald were Ryder Cup standouts, and Jiminez was a standout as a role player. I make no apology for giving Mahan serious props for heart at the Ryder Cup; I can't begin to say how impressed I was with him. People can say you've got to expect the unexpected, but that bomb McDowell lipped in at 16 would have crushed just about anybody's hopes. (Ok, maybe not Rickie Fowler's, but I thought Fowler's overseas experience at the Walker Cup was seriously undervalued by just about everybody except Corey Pavin. Fowler clearly demonstrated that he's made of different stuff than most team players... but just give Hunter time. I think this Ryder Cup will give him that extra "something" as well.)

So that's my first Ruthless Golf World Rankings. If you think I should have included something else in my "figgerin," just leave me a comment. I'll consider it in my next rankings...

Or maybe not. It's my blog, after all. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. the curse of #1 - Westwood re-injured the leg at the Dunhill Cup. Good thing he has a little time to heal up before the 2011 season starts.

    now - would that re-injury have happened in the warm weather of someplace like...ohh...Florida ? :-)

    Betcha wish you had picked up the family and moved to the PGA Tour NOW, don'tcha Westie ? (JUST kidding) :-D