I have a confession to make. I can’t get my head round the Official World Golf Ranking. I understand the basic concept that points are awarded based on the strength of the field at any given tournament, but my brain starts to fry when I get to the bit about the two-year rolling system, decrements and divisors.
I have tried to understand it, but as a words-rather-than-numbers man I decided some time ago to just accept that the ranking is put together by men who didn’t have to resit their mathematics ’O’ level multiple times, and are therefore ‘right’.
What helped me accept the ranking as ‘the law’ is that after two years of consistently excellent golf Lee Westwood was finally acknowledged as the best golfer in the world. I – and I expect many Golf Monthly readers too – recall the time in the early 2000s when Westwood was a million miles off the top of the ranking. Devoid of confidence and results, he sunk as low as 266th in May 2003. He was ranked below the likes of Rolf Muntz (the Dutch one-time winner on tour who I do know of) and Marco Dawson (even resident office statto, Jezz Ellwood, doesn’t know his nationality let alone any of his results). At the time the view from the media was that he might be a spent force and that it was time to stand aside for the new English young guns like Paul Casey and Luke Donald.
Given how low he went it is great testament to Westwood how he has rededicated himself to the game and built a stronger mind, body and swing. He has been helped enormously by having a supportive family, a great manager (Chubby Chandler), a top coach (Pete Cowen) and the best caddie in the world (Billy Foster), but at the end of the day it’s Lee himself who has really driven the process.
Golf Monthly’s March issue also focused on another one of European golf’s biggest names, but one whose career seems to be heading in the opposite direction to that of Westwood’s, Sergio Garcia.
It’s hard to believe that the player so many of us thought would be the real challenger to Tiger Woods could cut such a forlorn figure on the golf course as Sergio does these days. He was the brightest of the bright young things and his passion for the game made golf exciting. But, going in to 2011, Sergio is languishing well outside the word’s top 50 at number 79. Last year it got so bad that he took a self-imposed break from the game.
Westwood proved the old sporting cliché that while form may be temporary, class is permanent. He has come back from the depths and I for one really hope Sergio can do the same. When he is on form, striking the ball with a fizz and bouncing round the course with a smile on his face, he makes the professional game that much more enjoyable for us golf fans to watch.