Tiger’s back on top, but where’s the European Challenge coming from?

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A confident, steady Tiger Woods cruised at Bay Hill and reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. But his comeback won’t be complete until he wins that elusive 15th major championship, writes Golf Magazine’s Alan Bastable.

Zebedeerox‘s insight:

It grates me to say it, but Tiger Woods is back.  But why do I feel this way?

For the first time since I’ve been commentating on golf, Tiger’s at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.

Last time he was there, my wife and I were sat in our appartment in Tenerife watching the miners being lifted out of a collapsed mine in Chile.

Lee Westwood knocked Tiger off the top of golf’s world rankings and the number one spot, despite changing hands a few times, has not lef the UK since.

That was until Monday, when Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill for the 8th time in his career and hardly broke sweat to do it.

The only other golfers who look capable of reigning in Tiger at the moment are Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose.

Whilst the media have been concentrating on ‘the comeback’, Brandt and Justin are making their own inroads in the OWGR almost under the radar.

True enough, with his win at Bayhill, Tiger has dumped Snedeker off the top of the Fedex Cup leaderboard as well as usurping Rory McIlroy at the top of the OWGR.

But just look where Snedeker and Rose are.  Snedeker’s holding onto second in the Fedex Cup and has climbed to fifth in the OWGR.

English: in 2007 Esperanto: en la jaro 2007

Tiger Woods back to 2007 form? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Justin Rose is now third in the OWGR, becoming the highest placed English golfer in the world.

I’m not certain, but I suspect with Westwood and Donald’s jaunts as world number one over the past three years, it’s the first time Rose has held that lofty position.

But this is where it grates.  This is where it hurts, being a European golf fan.

Where has the challenge been from McIlroy, Donald and Westwood to stop what’s seemingly an unchallenged domination of golf by arguably the greatest golfer of all time in Woods?

They shared the top three places for so long – and by such a distance – it seems unthinkable that Luke Donald could now be sitting in fourth and Lee Westwood a lowly thirteenth in the OWGR.

Will there be a Major winner from the Eastern Atlantic shores in 2013?  Or will US golf dominate?

Will someone other than Justin from UK Golf show that they’re interested in winning a title this year?  Yes, I’d love to see Justin pick up a major – he’s the most deserving golfer from Europe by a long shot.

But honestly, a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

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Maybe, just maybe, not everything’s wrapped up for RoMac Just yet

 

Would you believe that there are only nine events left on the European Tour this term?

Okay, there’s a little thing called the Ryder Cup in between now and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews the first weekend of October (note to self – select Fantasy Race to Dubai Team before jetting off to Lanzarote on the 6th), but the season’s well and truly entering its final stages as we enter autumn officially on Saturday, when both daylight and nighttime last twelve hours apiece.

European Tour 2012 - Oct & Nov Schedule

European Tour 2012 – Oct & Nov Schedule
(opens as pdf with active links on click-thru)

Here’s a quick run-down of the remaining 2012 European Tour events, with all but the aforementioned trip to Scotland and the following week’s trip to Vilamoura for the Portuguese Masters taking place in the southern hemisphere. The guys and gals at the European Tour know how to get themselves out of the cool run up to winter, don’t they?

In my article for Sports Monger on the Green this weekend, I alluded to the fact that RoMac had just about got everything wrapped up for the season. But if you look at the Race to Dubai rankings, below left, there’s still a Rose that could be a thorn in McIlroy’s side, Justin time for Dubai.

If you’re taking recent form into consideration, you’d say that the Holywood man will go on to win the FedEx Cup and both money lists either side of The Atlantic. But Rose, who was Europe’s top home soil earner for the majority of the early part of the season, is only half a million Euro behind Rory. The money left on offer on the European Tour, worked out at today’s Dollar/Euro rate of $1.00/€0.69 where the purse is offered in dollar$, means that a couple of wins for Justin in the last nine events could see the lead swap again.

Of course, swapping leads will be no alien concept for McIlroy, whose pass the parcel with Luke this season for the OWGR number one spot has been well documented. But Rose will at least want to finish the season on the same number of Tour events as Rory to put him on an even footing, having currently played ten to the Northern Irishman’s eleven, before they head to Dubai for the season’s showcase finale, where a whopping £8M is up for grabs in total.

Race to Dubai - End September 2012 Rankings

Race to Dubai – End September 2012 Rankings

But the Alfred Dunhill’s three weeks away and there’s that small matter of Medinah CC in Illinois in a little over ten days time to get our heads around first before we start contemplating the OWGR, FedEx and Race to Dubai final standings. For that, at least, Luke, Rory and Justin will all be batting for the same team as Team Europe look to defend the Ryder Cup won so valiantly at Celtic Manor two autumns hence.

More on the RtD rankings later this week – Luke and Lee at tenth and eleventh respectively? Surely that’s a typo, innit? Mm, when you consider their joint lack of top twenty penetration since mid-season and Tiger’s usurping them both for the world number two spot, maybe not…

 

A cut above at 2012 US PGA Championship

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I have to admit, I expected to be beginning today’s short article expressing my woes that Luke Donald, current OWGR number one, was on a flight home after his pre-cut score of +6 ruled him out of competing for the second half of this year’s US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

At one stage last night, it was T65 up to +4 and that was it. Justin Rose had scraped through on that score, Lee Westwood was a half way around bang on that score and Luke was out of contention posting 150 for the first two days.

How shocked was I to find this morning, then, that the bar had dropped to +6 so that Luke had got through by the skin on his Srixon but a second round 77 by Westwood on top of a first round 75 saw him finish this Major +8 and two shots off the mark.

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Zeb’s Tee Totallers – US PGA Championship 2012

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Only a very brief post, today, as we build up to the US PGA tomorrow.

Here’s my ten golfers from the European Tour who I’m picking to do well in South Carolina this upcoming weekend.

Who do you think’s going to win?

Anything you want to get off your chest about the PGA, European Tour or golf in general? Submit your article, guidelines on site, at http://golfdrive.tumblr.com/submit

Will Luke, Justin or Lee break that Major duck?  We seem to ask it ahead of every major, but this time, I have a strong feeling the 94th US PGA Championship will be heading over to Blighty.

Justin Rose at 35/1 to win it outright has just got to be tempting, or 3/1 for a top ten finish  – that latter’s like being given a license to print money! Odds as of paddypower, 8/8/12, 14:15

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