Back 9: Who’s Really No. 1?Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The Official World Golf Ranking still has Tiger Woods ranked as the #1 golfer in the world although he has played like he doesn’t belong in the top 200 for almost a year. Tiger has been #1 for the past 279 weeks and a total of 621 weeks in his career. Personal problems and swing changes contributed to his poor play in 2010.
#2 ranked, Lee Westwood, will overtake Woods and claim the #1 spot at the end of October. Both will not play again until November in the HSBC Championship in Shanghai, China, a WGC event. Woods poor tournament record in 2010 has allowed the rest of the field to close the gap on the gigantic lead that he held just one year ago.
Although Westwood has not won on the European Tour in 2010 he is ranked #3 on the tour’s Order of Merit. He had a stellar 2010 campaign with a win at Memphis on the PGA Tour, a second place finish at the Masters, 16th at the U. S. Open, and a second place at the Open Championship. He was forced to withdraw from the PGA Championship due to a leg injury that sidelined him for most of August and all of September.
Phil Mickelson is currently #3 on the OWGR. Except for his win at the Masters, he had a very mundane year and is also battling some health issues that have had negative affect on his game.
The true #1 player in the world right now is lurking in fourth place. German Martin Kaymer with four wins on the European Tour, three in a row and a win at the PGA Championship is leading the 2010 European Tour’s Order of Merit. The 26 year old Kaymer has eight wins and is in just his fourth year on the European Tour. He has steadily progressed through the ranks in Europe and his win at Whistling Straits vaulted him into the world spotlight. He has emerged as the leader of the 20 somethings, a group that includes the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.
Tiger Woods will probably regain the top ranking again next year but I am beginning to believe that at the age of 35 he has reached the “Back 9” of career and his best years are behind him. Perhaps we are witnessing a changing of the guard on the world golf stage.
Golf like any athletic endeavor favors the strength and agility of the young. Now that Tiger has shown his invincibility there is a host of young guys chomping at the bit to take his place.