The Reuters global sports blog
To much fanfare, Lee Westwood has ended the 281-week reign of Tiger Woods as golf’s world number one yet the fact the Briton has not won a major raises a couple of questions — Do rankings reward consistency rather than great achievement? And how much do they really matter?
According to former world number one and six-times major winner Nick Faldo, the answer is not as much as the big tournaments.
“It’s interesting how times have changed, how you can get to be number one without winning a major,” Faldo said. “I never understood the points scoring system, even in my day.
“But I wanted to be number one. It is a nice one to win. But majors are the one, because you have to go and win them and finish them off.”
This week’s Memorial tournament, an elite PGA Tour event in its own right hosted by golfing great Jack Nicklaus, is sure to offer several pointers toward the likely contenders at this month’s U.S. Open.
Many of the game’s leading players are making their final appearances on the circuit before switching focus to the second major of the year, which takes place at majestic Pebble Beach from June 17-20.
Among a bucketful of intriguing storylines going into this week’s Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass is speculation on whether Tiger Woods will miss consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career.
The American world number one, comfortably the greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, was a shadow of himself at last week’s Quail Hollow Championship where he coughed and spluttered his way to scores of 74 and 79.
Updated after Scott McCarron’s clarification this week:
Scott McCarron has issued a statement clarifying his widely reported comments on the use of Ping-Eye 2 wedges with square grooves. McCarron says he never accused Phil Mickelson of being a cheat, but he has stepped up his criticism of the the use of the 20-year-old club, saying he was appalled by his fellow American’s decision to use it at last week’s San Diego Open.
The Royal and Ancient game is renowned for its innate sense of fair play and the self-policing by its players and consequently incidents of cheating have been few and far between over the decades.
The huge galleries following the final round match-up between Tiger Woods (“Laohu” to the locals) and Phil Mickelson at the WGC-HSBC Champions last Sunday made life uncomfortable for player and spectator alike on a humid day in Shanghai.
China’s wealthiest had paid up to 3,500 yuan ($513) for their tickets but the best view, on the fourth green at least, went to the soldiers in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) barracks on the other side of the canal which runs alongside the hole.
As professional tournament golf edges closer to the year-end, several of the younger players can be forgiven for not exactly feeling groovy about their prospects out of the rough once the 2010 season gets underway.
Simon and Garfunkel preached a slower pace to life in their whimsical “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” in 1966 but those uplifting harmonies are unlikely to be of any help to many golfers who miss the fairways next year.
Tiger Woods and Adam Scott have described it as gimmicky. Phil Mickelson believes it is the midway point in golf’s most exciting finish but former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia says it has the same effect as a nervous wait for a nasty dental appointment.
It is the infamous par-three 17th at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the signature hole on the Stadium Course which will host the Players Championship this week for the 28th time.
Spectators who were fortunate enough to be at Augusta National for the final round of the 2009 U.S. Masters will never forget the experience as the birdie roars returned to the undulating, par-72 layout with a vengeance.
On a sun-kissed spring afternoon in Georgia, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods led the way with a sizzling display of shot-making, charging into contention after starting the last day seven strokes off the lead.
All the early signs are pointing toward a season to remember for the American left-hander who is one of the most thrilling and gifted shot-makers to have played the game.