The Newest #1
With his win last week at Riviera CC, 31-year old Dustin Johnson ascended to the top of the World Gold Rankings. Johnson dominated one of the best fields of the year on one of the Tour’s revered layouts to win the Genesis Open by 5 shots over Belgian Thomas Pieters (you will be hearing more from him) and Scott Brown. It was the South Carolinian’s fourth win in the last 7 months and the 13th of his career.
Getting to the pinnacle of professional golf may be easier than staying there.
The Rolex World Rankings are a cauldron of calculating factors which give players points based on finishes over a two year period, with more weight given to more recent results.
Johnson took over the #1 mantle from Jason Day who had been the game’s best player for 47 weeks. By design, the 29-year old Day largely takes a hiatus from competition over the winter months and has only played in a handful of events so far this season. Day fell to the #2 position.
World #6 Jordan Spieth has been the #1 ranked golfer twice in his young career; once for two weeks and another time for just one week. Two weeks ago at Pebble Beach the 23-year old Texan notched his 9th PGA Tour win with easy 4 stroke victory over Kelly Kraft along Golf’s most famous Oceanside. Spieth is the second youngest player since World War II to have won so much by such a young age (Tiger Woods won 15 times before turning 24).
The third member of the new Big 3 (with Day and Spieth) and current world #3, Rory McIlroy has been sidelined with a rib injury but is expecting to return at next weeks’ WGC Championship in Mexico. Already a winner of 4 Major Championships, McIlroy has very candidly said that his main goal for 2017 is to win the only Major that has eluded him to date, The Masters.
24-year old Hideki Matsuyama won the week before Spieth when he captured his second consecutive Waste Management open in Phoenix. That was a continuation of the superlative play from the Japanese star which included a stretch of events where he won 4 times and was 2nd in the other 3 tournaments. Matsuyama is now #5 in the world and currently leads the FedEx Cup points.
Right behind Matsuyama in second place on the FedEx Cup race is another of the game’s Young Guns, 23-year old Justin Thomas who has already won 3 times this season on the Tour http://www.birdgolf.com/dynamic-duo/
At this week’s Honda Classic another of the Tour’s young stars, Rickie Fowler continued the trend of runaway performances and bested the field by 4 shots to claim his 4th Tour victory and return to the Top 10 in the rankings.
While the next decade may not produce one dominating golfer, that may be just fine for the game. Given the plethora of talented players, we may have several players stake their claim to being the best and it will be interesting to see who can hold onto that spot the longest.