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PGA Tour Weekly: Is Paul Casey the Third Best Golfer in the World?

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PGA Tour Weekly: Is Paul Casey the Third Best Golfer in the World?
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Paul Casey has never come close to winning a major championship.  In fact, his first ever PGA Tour win came a mere seven weeks ago.

Yet this week Casey walks into "Hogan’s Alley" for the Crowne Plaza Invitational as the number three ranked player in the world.

Am I the only one that thinks there’s something wrong here?

Ben Hogan, who was nicknamed ‘the wee iceman’ not only for his supposed cold personality but for his ability to remain eerily calm under the most intense major championship pressure, would have rolled over in his grave several times by now upon seeing Casey’s name jump to the third spot in the World Golf rankings.  

With three wins worldwide in 2009, Paul Casey is certainly having a spectacular season.

But, has his accomplishments thus far in 2009 really been enough to catipult him 38 spots in the World Golf Rankings over the past five months?

The even bigger question is—does anyone truly believe that Paul Casey is the third best golfer on the face of the planet right now?

I happen to be one of the few that think we can often put too much weight solely on a player’s performance in the majors.

For the casual golf fan, it seems as if your run-of-the-mill PGA Tour win has become almost worthless.

However, any professional golfer from any era will be quick to tell you that there is nothing "run-of-the-mill" about winning any PGA Tour event.

That being said, when it really comes down to measuring the greatness of a golfer’s career, major championships trump all else.

The World Golf rankings, however, seem to place nearly as much weight on a win at the Abu Dhabi Championship as they do on a win at The Masters.

Only five of the top-10 players in the Wolrd Golf rankings have won a major championship.

Paul Casey is as hot as anyone right now…but, the third best golfer in the world?

I can immediately think of a handful of players who have accomplished considerably more than Paul Casey over the last year.

How about Kenny Perry?

Over the past twelve months, Perry has four PGA Tour wins and eight top-10 finishes including a second place finish at the Masters. 

How about Zach Johnson?

So far in 2009, Johnson, who happens to have a green jacket hanging in his closet, has two PGA Tour wins and seven top-25 finishes in just 13 events.

How about Geoff Ogilvy?

Ogilvy is also a former major champion and has won twice already in 2009, one of which came at the Accenture World Match Play Championship this past February where he completely manhandled Paul Casey in the finals.

Ogilvy has also finished in the top-25 at both the Masters and the Players Championship.

How about Padraig Harrington?

Padraig Harrington might be the most underrated player I have ever come across in all my years of following golf.

Harrington has three major wins over the past two years including back-to-back wins at the 2009 British Open and PGA Championship.

There are very few players in the history of the game who have won consecutive majors in the same calendar year, and Harrington is one of them.

Although Harrington has struggled thus far in 2009, Paul Casey has certainly not accomplished more than Harrington has over the past year; Casey may go his entire career without accomplishing what Harrington has done over the past 12 months.

So, despite what the current World Golf rankings may say, does any believe that Casey has accomplished more lately than the likes of Harrington, Ogilvy, Johnson and Perry?

I certainly don’t.

Major championships are just four events that take place during a long, grueling PGA Tour season.  But, they are still four events that are significantly more important than all the others.  

If you were to sit down at a table with the likes of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods and ask each man how they measure a golfer’s level of greatness, I am quite certain that each one of them would answer by saying ‘major championship wins’ without the slightest of hesitations, no matter what type of severely skewed list the World Golf rankings happen to produce.

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