Newspaper article International New York Times

Still No. 1? Golf Rankings Reflect a Longer View ; Points System Covers 2 Years, Not Just What Player Has Done Lately

Newspaper article International New York Times

Still No. 1? Golf Rankings Reflect a Longer View ; Points System Covers 2 Years, Not Just What Player Has Done Lately

Article excerpt

The world golf rankings, with a two-year rolling points system, are the rare perch offering athletes a place to rest on their laurels.

In sports, you either win or you don't -- a rigid bottom line underlying the "what have you done for us lately" attitude exemplified by the criticism aimed at the N.B.A. star Kevin Durant days before the formal announcement this week of his Most Valuable Player award.

The world golf rankings, with a two-year rolling points system, are the rare perch offering athletes a place to rest on their laurels. Nine months have passed since top-ranked Tiger Woods last visited the winner's circle. In that time, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed each have collected three titles on the PGA Tour. Neither has cracked the top 10; Walker is No. 22, two spots ahead of Reed.

Eight weeks have passed since Woods's last competitive round before he was sidelined with a back injury. Eight players have notched victories on the PGA Tour and five on the European Tour. Only two, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, appear in this week's top 10, which includes six players, in addition to Woods, who are winless in 2014.

At the Players Championship this week, the fourth-ranked Watson, in his first start since his Masters victory, and the fifth-ranked Kuchar join No. 2 Adam Scott and No. 3 Henrik Stenson as players who can take over the top spot from Woods, the defending champion who wrote on his blog this week that he was hopeful of a summer return.

The way the rankings are calculated, if Scott had joined Woods on the sidelines this week, he would have been assured of passing Woods in next week's standings. Informed Wednesday of the quirk in the calculations, Scott said, "See you later, guys."

He was kidding, but his circumstance raises this question: If playing is a potential roadblock to No. 1, is professional golf on the right rankings path?

"With tours all around the world, people playing everywhere and awarding fair points for everything, I think they have come up with the best they possibly can," Scott said, "and they have been fairly accurate over the years."

The job of slotting players falls to a world ranking governing board, which consists of one representative each from the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the alliance of international PGA Tours and the four majors. …

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