Tuesday, November 29, 2005

South African Distraction

Well, with the Nedbank Golf Challenge diverting 11 of the top 20 golfers to South Africa this week, and another 6 taking the week off, only 3 top tier golfers are playing for OWGR points this week. Michael Campbell steps up to headline at the Australian PGA in Adam Scott's absence. Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie return to China this week to play in the UBS Hong Kong Open. This brings to my attention that I omitted Monty from my rivalry discussion yesterday. Perhaps he'll win this week and give us a fourth "second best European" in as many weeks.

Golfer to watch this week: Colin Montgomerie

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just your typical off-week shifting

Not much Tier movement this week -- just DL3 dropping to Tier V and McGinley, Couples, and Bryant falling off the list. I have left the Tiger Rule in effect although, due to a weird technicality, removing it would only have 32 players in the top 5 tiers this week. Since the gap between Tiger and Vijay is still 7.41, I suspect this is a mere anomaly and the Tiger Rule would be needed again next week anyway.

Weekend notes:
  • What is it with Opens? The U.S. Open so often seems to be a fire-breathing dragon that will slay anyone that dare attempt to defeat it. Its cousin was alive and kicking this week on the Moonah Links in Australia this week with only seven players finishing under par.
  • We could get a nice little rivalry going for "best golfer in Great Britain and Ireland" or "second best golfer in Europe." Two weeks ago, Luke Donald filled this slot with OWGR #11. Last week, David Howell jumped ahead of Donald into that spot. This week, Padraig Harrington returned to the helm, so that the numbers 11, 12, and 13 players in the world are Harrington, Donald, and Howell respectively.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

And then there was one

Well, with the Silly Season in full swing the only golfer in the top 23 playing in an official event this week is Adam Scott down at the Australian Open. You don't have to look too far down the list to find other good contenders in Nick O'Hern, Mark Hensby, and Stuart Appleby at 29, 30, and 32 respectively, but it doesn't look like a win would push any of them into the top 5 tiers.

Golfer to watch this week: Hmm... Let me think... Adam Scott.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Minor number shifting

With little activity last week, the only changes are due to minor number shifts that caused Paul McGinley to slide back to Tier V and allowed Fred Couples and Bart Bryant to slip back into Tier V. The Tiger Rule remains in place as without it the top 5 tiers would extend all the way down to Charles Howell III, world number 52.

Weekend highlights:
  • It was certainly interesting to see Duval's name back on the leaderboard in Japan this week despite his weak showing Sunday.
  • It's great to get a chance to watch the European Tour regulars play golf to get to know some new faces. The expressions on Henrik Stenson's face at times this week were particularly priceless. His name has been on my radar for the past few months, but I didn't really know who he was until this week. In fact, I think I had him mixed up with Niclas Fasth for a while there. I'm not sure how I missed him at the WGC-AmEx, but I'm guessing ABC didn't show him much. (They were too enraptured by the Woods/Daly driving contest.) At the end of 2004, I picked Nick O'Hern as my European Tour player to follow for 2005 and while he did have some interesting highlights for the year he was certainly less than sensational. This time around I'm picking Henrik Stenson to follow in 2006. He hasn't showed up in the top 5 tiers much yet, but if next year goes as well as this year has it won't be too long before he is a regular in the top tiers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Around the World

We've only got 5 of the top 21 golfers eligible for OWGR points this week what with the World Cup in Portugal and the PGA Tour's off-season. Tiger Woods returns to Japan to defend his title from such challengers as Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie, and Michael Campbell although even with a win Tiger's points average stands to decrease. Across the globe, Retief Goosen has headed home to headline the Limpopo Classic in South Africa.

The more interesting tournament this week has no affect on world rankings, but it's still worth commenting on. On paper, England has the strongest team in David Howell, hot off his HSBC victory, and Luke Donald. Next comes Ireland with the historically sound pairing of Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley. Then we have Sergio Garcia teaming up with Miguel Angel Jimenez for Spain. Tim Clark and Trevor Immelman form the South African team and Angel Cabrera teams up with fellow Argentinan Ricardo Gonzalez, winner of the 2004 Open de Sevilla.

Golfer(s) to watch this week: Well, since there will be little activity on the OWGR board and those events will be rather difficult to watch this week anyways, I give the look to the Englishmen in Portugal, David Howell and Luke Donald.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Tiger Rule

I am officially invoking the Tiger Rule in my determination of the top 5 tiers because 48 players is just too many. Until someone steps up again to challenge Tiger like Vijay did last year, Tiger is in a league of his own and will not factor into calculations for the time being.

Currently, Vijay stays in Tier II by himself, but his putting will certainly have to improve to maintain his lead.

Mickelson, Goosen, Els, and Garcia make a solid representation for Tier III.

With the next 14 golfers now in Tier IV, the only change of note is that David Howell passed Luke Donald to hold bragging rights to top English golfer in the world at present.

Tim Clark rounds out the top tiers as the lone golfer in Tier V.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

And the Game Goes On

China gets to see some good golf this week as several top golfers head across the Pacific for a week now the the regular PGA Tour season is over for the year. The HSBC Champions Tournament on the Asian Tour is headlined this week by Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Michael Campbell, Paul McGinley, David Howell, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and Henrik Stenson.

The key is once again the comparison between Tiger's and Vijay's performances this week. As I indicated on Monday, I'm hoping Vijay's got his putting problems worked out. Jimenez and Stenson have there work cut out for them but there is a chance they could play themselves up a tier.

Golfer to watch this week: Well, since I've listed Vijay recently and since I don't seem to be listing a golfer that performs well in that week so far, let go with Tiger Woods.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

In a Year

Most Improved: Bart Bryant was ranked 136th at this point last year and is now 24th. That is essentially a jump from being a Tier 55 player to a Tier 2 player. The way he played last week solidified where his game stands.

Honorable Mention: Jose Maria Olazabal (132 - 27), Henrik Stenson (135 - 33), Ben Crane (121 - 34).

Most Consistent: Retief Goosen is not only in the same tier he was one year ago. He is also in the exact same place he was in the OWGR at that time. It's not been an easy year for the Goose but he's managed not to slide, nonetheless.

Honorable Mention: Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Adam Scott, Chris DiMarco, Kenny Perry, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink, Stuart Appleby.

Biggest Slide: Todd Hamilton was one of only three players (with Weir and Ames) to fall off the list from last year. Currently at World 97, Hamilton has performed the worst of those three.

Tier ITier I
Tiger WoodsVijay Singh
Tiger Woods
Ernie Els
Tier IITier II
Vijay SinghRetief Goosen
Phil MickelsonPhil Mickelson
Retief GoosenMike Weir
Ernie ElsPadraig Harrington
Sergio GarciaDavis Love III
Jim FurykSergio Garcia
Adam ScottStewart Cink
Chris DiMarcoAdam Scott
Kenny PerryDarren Clarke
Angel CabreraKenny Perry
David TomsChris DiMarco
Luke DonaldMiguel Angel Jimenez
Padraig HarringtonJim Furyk
Colin Montgomerie
Michael Campbell
Davis Love III
Paul McGinley
David Howell
Darren Clarke
Tim Clark
Thomas Bjorn
Fred Couples
Bart Bryant
Stewart Cink
Scott Verplank
Tier IIITier III
Jose Maria OlazabalChad Campbell
John Daly
Tier IVTier IV
Justin LeonardStuart Appleby
Stuart ApplebyDavid Toms
Miguel Angel JimenezTodd Hamilton
Chad Campbell
Henrik Stenson
Tier VTier V
Ben CraneStephen Ames
Mark Hensby

Monday, November 07, 2005

Come on, Vijay!

I'm officially cheering for Vijay Singh to find his putting stroke before Tiger Woods separates himself from the pack any more. With 25 golfers in Tier II this week things are getting stretched a little far. All these men are certainly excellent golfers, and Vijay's clearly not at the top of his game right now, so I'm not complaining too much at this point.

Bart Bryant was spot on this week and played himself into his position in Tier II as did Scott Verplank. Other golfers who managed to sneak into Tier II this week were Paul McGinley, David Howell, Darren Clarke, Tim Clark, Thomas Bjorn, Fred Couples, and Stewart Cink. Jose Maria Olazabal and John Daly did make it back into the list as I suggested but all the way up to Tier III. Justin Leonard, Stuart Appleby, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Chad Campbell, and Henrik Stenson enter the list at Tier IV this week and Ben Crane and Mark Hensby round out the top players in Tier V.

Tomorrow: A comparison between the Top 5 Tiers right now and at this point last year.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Grand Finale

I wouldn't be surprised if the gap between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh increases once again this week. Vijay stands to lose more points, and he is not in good form entering the week.

Retief Goosen should stay comfortably where he is in Tier II. As for Sergio Garcia, also comfortably in Tier II, a top three finish this week should pull him ahead of Ernie Els in the OWGR. Of this field of 29, Sergio's performance is among the top in the weeks preceding the Tour Championship.

Furyk, Scott, DiMarco, Perry, Donald, Harrington, and Love should all be able to remain in Tier II thanks to the Woods-Singh gap. Being at the bottom of the list, Love would be iffy but he really doesn't stand to lose any points at present unless he WDs or DQs. Besides, he hasn't played terribly in his last few starts.

The final player in both the top tiers and the Tour Championship is Tim Clark. He has the chance to move up to Tier III which in turn should slide Couples, Bjorn, and Cink up to Tier IV and allow Jose Maria Olazabal and John Daly to sneak back into the list in Tier V.

Player to watch this week: Sergio Garcia