I don’t follow golf very much. I usually turn in to the The Open Championship, aka the British Open (love the bunkers). I also tune in when someone is about to do something historic, like Greg Norman challenging at The Open Championship in 2008 or Tiger in a playoff on only one knee.
Which brings us to the big question, who is the next number one? Tiger still holds the spot, even after not playing for a month. The results of the The Open Championship are unlikely to change the leader board, except to bring Tiger closer to the pack.
If you look at the current standings, Phil Mickelson is best positioned to take the spot. I have my doubts about his ability to pull it off. He isn’t doing well at the British this weekend. He cleared the cut by two strokes, but was eight strokes back with a +8. He then hit 6 over the last two days and should finish well out of it.
After Phil, it is wide open. Whoever wants it more can take it, so it will be interesting to see.
A Historical Look
Grabbing numbers of weeks in the top spot, I’ve thrown a little graphic showing the Leaders (most weeks at #1), Challengers (10+ weeks or 2 times at #1), and Notables (at least one week at #1) per year. It isn’t meant to show the best player each year, but to give an indication of dominance in the golfing world.
As you can see, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods have dominated the charts since the rankings came out in 1986. Vijay Singh would have a stronger showing except his time at the top was over two years and I selected calendar years. Vijay is the victim of the methodology that I chose. Many would argue that he was the best player of 1994, and I would probably have to agree.
The chart really expresses dominance. Tiger I knew. Greg Norman also dominated, which I thought, but didn’t understand the scope. Nick Faldo had a decent run for a few years, but he didn’t define an era. He was just a break from Greg.
Tiger already has this year wrapped-up. The question is whether anyone can perform well enough to hit the challenger level, or will they be left at Notable. I expect at least one person to hit the Challenger status this year and maybe even a new Champion for next year. We could see a fair amount of turmoil for a while as it will probably take Tiger at least 6-7 months to challenge for the top spot, most likely longer.
I can’t wait to see who will actually pull this out.
[Edit 2008-07-21: Looked at the updated ratings after The Open Championship. No real changes except that Padraig Harrington has moved into 3rd place, noticeably in front of the pack. Tiger still has 2x Phil’s score in 2nd and 3x over Harrington.]