Westwood Ends 2010 at No. 1 in Official World Golf RankingsWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Lee Westwood capped off a pretty good year with his 10th week at No. 1 on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). His lead over No. 2 ranked Tiger Woods has increased through the month of December. His consistent play over the past two years and Tiger’s poor play in 2010 will allow him some comfort room as long as Tiger doesn’t start winning early and often in 2011. Martin Kaymer poses the largest threat to overtaking Westwood. If Kaymer gets off to a fast start and Westwood falters the German may overtake him.
The OWGR is a complicated calculation of two year’s rolling average of a player’s accumulated tournament finishes compared against the strength of the tournament field. Six European players are in the top 10. No. 1 Westwood, No. 3 Kaymer, and No. 10 Rory McIlroy, have all decided to forego U. S. PGA Tour membership for 2011 which will make the Euro fields stronger and high finishes for Westwood and Kaymer will help them maintain their lofty world ranking positions.
Westwood has been the model of consistency with 2 wins and 20 top tens in 35 starts over the last two years on the European Tour. He did get his first ever PGA Tour win in June at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis and added runner up finishes at the U. S. and British Opens. With 22 wins in his 16 year career on the European Tour the only thing lacking is that elusive major championship. It is hard to imagine Westwood ending his career like Colin Montgomerie with no majors on his resume’.
26 year old German, Martin Kaymer, captured the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, added 3 Euro wins plus captured the #1 spot on the Race to Dubai to round out a stellar 2010. In just his 5th year as a professional he has already added 8 first place trophies to his closet. He is the best young player and possibly the best player overall right now in the world.
Due to his 6 wins and 14 top tens in 2009, Tiger was able to hold onto the No. 1 OWGR for most of 2010. He has held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 632 weeks, just one week shy of 12 years. His play in 2010, however, was somewhat less than “Tigeresque”. No major titles, no regular tour wins, one costly divorce, plus a $50 million dollar hit to his endorsement income leaves one wondering if the poor boy will have enough left for jet fuel. The good news is that after hitting bottom and posting a +18 for next to last place at The WGC Bridgestone in August, Tiger’s game has been steadily improving and he seems to be getting close to regaining the dominant style of play that golf fans across the world expect.
When and how often Tiger wins, can Westwood break through for his first major victory and will Martin Kaymer continue his consistent play and overtake both Tiger and Westwood are three of the main story lines to watch in 2011.
Stay tuned boys and girls, it should be another exciting year in the golf world.