Will the Official World Golf Ranking's No. 1 Spot Be a Revolving Door in 2014?

Richard LeivenbergContributor IIIJune 3, 2014

Will the Official World Golf Ranking's No. 1 Spot Be a Revolving Door in 2014?

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    With just about half the season gone, Adam Scott sits atop the world rankings, but it is a tremulous position with a number of players seeking to topple him.

    As a squadron of rising stars and surging vets jockey for position every week and with three majors still to play, the top spot in the world is anything but secure.

    Now that the BCS is gone, the Official World Golf Rankings is perhaps the most convoluted ranking system in sports.  It is not necessarily based on what a pro did today or even this month as much as what he did months ago. It also has to do with the quality of the field and the event.

    That is why Tiger Woods, who hasn’t held a stick in his hands for over two months, held the top position for so long. Entering the year as No. 1 after scoring five wins in 2013, he had a great season ranking-wise, and no one could surpass him. 

    What remains baffling is that while still recuperating from his back surgery, he still ranks fourth. 

    This is how the OWGR explains its procedure: “The World Ranking Points for each player are accumulated over a two year “rolling” period with the points awarded for each event maintained for a 13-week period to place additional emphasis on recent performances.” 

    If you can understand why or how that works, feel free to comment.  I am sure we would all appreciate the insight.

    So, we have Henrik Stenson, who hasn’t won this year and has had just one top-10 finish, ranked second in the world, which doesn’t seem to make any sense for the here and now.

    Meanwhile, Bubba Watson, who almost won for a second time last week, has jumped from 28th at the end of 2013 all the way to third place.  Now that does makes sense.

    In the meantime, 2014 is shaping up to be a wild free for all with a number of top players vying for the No. 1 spot in the world. (Note to Patrick Reed: It won’t be you.)  

    Here is a list of those with the best shot.

     

Hideki Matsuyama

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    He may only be 22 years old, but don’t be fooled by his age.  He has already won six times around the world, including last week’s win at Memorial where he played the best tee-to-green golf in a world-class field.

    Hideki Matsuyama has jumped nine spots in the last week into the 13th spot in the rankings, and there is little reason why he shouldn’t move up even further as the year progresses.

    The young man from Japan is being heralded as the next superstar.  In 12 tournaments so far this year, he has finished in the top 25 nine times, four of which were in the top 10.  This may be his first win on the PGA Tour, but he currently holds the 13th spot in scoring average and has moved up to 15th in all around ranking.  

    At the Memorial, he plodded his way through the weekend exhibiting tenacity and calm that is well beyond his years.

    It may seem like a long shot, but Matsuyama could end up in the No. 1 spot by the year's end.

Jason Day

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    The 26-year-old Australian has been rising through the ranks throughout his young career. 

    He had vaulted into the fourth spot in the rankings and looked like he would make a powerful run to the top when he won the Accenture World Match Play Championship event earlier in the year.  He now ranks seventh.

    A thumb injury got in the way of his upward momentum, but he is now back on the course and is definitely someone to watch out for.

    He should, in fact, be a favorite to win the upcoming U.S. Open where he finished in a tie for second last year.  By the way, Jason Day’s record at majors is quite notable, including six top-10 finishes since 2010.

    Although he has only played in five full events this year, he has been in the top 10 three times.

    Day should have great consideration a contender for No. 1 as the year progresses.

Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth is everybody’s golden boy, it seems, and if there a bright light on the tour’s future, it is focused on him.

    In every event he plays, he plays with a fervor and consistency that makes him a solid contender.

    Although he has yet to notch his second career win (he won the John Deere Classic ast year as a 19-year-old), he almost made it a historical victory when he finished tied for second at this year’s Masters.

    This season Spieth has finished second twice, been in the top 10 six times and the top 13 in 15 events he has played.  He also now ranks fifth in FedEx Cup points.

    For Spieth, it is only a matter of time until he begins accumulating wins, and he could make a legitimate run to the No. 1 spot in the world this year.

Matt Kuchar

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    Matt Kuchar holds that ignominious title of best player not to win a major.  But there is still no doubt that he is among the elite in the game.

    If the rankings were based solely on consistency, he would be No. 1 every year. Since 2010, he has only missed the cut seven times. He actually went all the way to Sunday in 34 straight tournaments until missing the cut earlier this year.

    That’s some heady stuff for any pro.  This year, he has won once and finished in the top 10 in 14 events he has entered.

    He finished tied for fifth in this year’s Masters and if he should actually finally get that major win this year, he could shoot to the top of the world rankings, where he is currently ranked fifth.

Rory McIlroy

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    If there is a more mercurial and talented player on the tour than Rory McIlroy, it would be hard to find him.

    He has hopscotched the rankings over the last few years and now sits in sixth position after his amazing come-from-behind victory at the BMW PGA Championship this month.

    McIlroy, you will recall, has already held the No. 1 position back in 2012.  He has also won two majors, the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, so we know the stuff that he is made of.

    But McIlroy’s ride has been bumpy as he has careened around the rankings since 2012 due to personal issues, acquainting himself with new clubs and straightening out his overall game.

    After breaking up with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki just a few weeks ago, he went out and won the BMW tournament.  Last week, he opened with a score of 63 at the Memorial, and it looked as if he would go back to back.  While that was not meant to be, as he fell back into the pack, no one can discount his immense talent, which drove him into the premier position in the world before.

    McIlroy’s play has been extremely well rounded, as he ranks eighth in driving distance, 30th in greens in regulation, first in birdie average and third in scoring average.

    At 25, he remains the best young player in the game and now that his game is back on track, it is a good bet that he has an excellent opportunity to regain the No. 1 ranking.

Bubba Watson

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    Arguably the game’s most fun and rambunctious player to watch, Watson, who is ranked third overall, may be America’s top player as well.

    He not only drives the ball farther than anyone; he is also getting it on the green in regulation at a very high rate (ranked seventh) while improving his putting (ranked 51st in strokes gained-putting).  Overall, he is third in all-around ranking

    These stats, coupled with a newfound propensity to compete, has allowed Bubba Watson to win both the Masters and The Northern Trust Open this year. He also has two second-place finishes and a third-place finish within a total of seven top 10s in 10 outings.

    Watson is taking dead aim at being the game’s best player and has shown that if doesn’t beat himself, as he did at the Memorial down the stretch, that few can beat him.  In fact, Adam Scott trailed Watson for the entire tournament and didn’t take advantage of Watson’s poor play on the final round.

    For the most part, Watson has been consistent off the tee and, as such, is putting a lot of space between him and his competitors.

    If he can keep it up, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to replace Scott as the No. 1 player in the world this year.

Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott was in second place in the world rankings for 38 weeks before he unceremoniously replaced an injured Tiger Woods as No. 1.

    While he did so without lifting an iron, he surely has earned this premier ranking.

    After winning the 2013 Masters, Scott has been at the top of his game.

    He has only missed one cut in the last three years while winning three times.  Simultaneously, he has ascended to the top 30 in just about every major statistical category.  He is ranked second in total driving, third in birdie average, fifth in scoring and first in all-around ranking.  

    Needless to say, the top spot in the world is Scott’s to lose but as long as he keeps playing the way he has, it will take a very strong player to unseat him.