Tiger-Free: 2011 Unofficial World Golf Power Ranking as of March 1
So, we are officially into March of 2011. Crazy, isn't it? Feels like just yesterday we were ripping on Tiger for not winning at Torrey Pines.
Enough about him, though. It's hard for anyone to believe, but Tiger Woods will not be a name in the top 15 of this list. And when I say hard to believe, I mean given who he is. Not the current circumstance.
What this list is going to do is probably open up each golfer, and show you where they really are in this year. The World Golf Rankings don't reflect it, so I decided it was time for a change. I have no point system.
This is all based on how I interpreted the numbers. Feel free to chime in on your thoughts, but for now, here are the UNofficial World Golf Power Rankings through February 2011 (note: the weekend before 2011 was considered in this).
No. 15: Lee Westwood
I don't firmly believe in this pick, but I am ranking Lee Westwood in this list. Maybe it's because he was able to hold onto his top spot in the world for 17 weeks. It's not quite as easy as it seemed for Westwood.
However, I certainly don't think that he deserved his spot at the top of the world. He has three wins to his name in the two year period that the rankings keep tournament points. Of those three, one is on the European Tour, one in South Africa, and one on the PGA Tour. None of them are majors.
That's the issue. Without a major, or any considerable number of wins, he doesn't impress me very much in comparison to any of the golfers on this list.
Don't get me wrong, Lee Westwood is a talented golfer. But he still doesn't have the credentials, especially of late, to be considered a top five player.
No. 14: Phil Mickelson
After starting his season with a second place finish at Torrey Pines, so many people began to predict a huge season for Phil Mickelson. And so far, he has fallen well short of that expectation.
He has only one other top 10 since then, and no top 25s outside of that. This week, Mickelson was taken out by a sizzling Rickie Fowler in the second round. I didn't really take this into account because the way Fowler was playing, he would have beat many of the golfers, if not all, on the course that day.
While Phil may, and probably does have a potential for a huge 2011, he hasn't started it yet.
So for now, even Phil does not crack the top 10 of the power rankings.
No. 13: Rory McIlroy
Despite the fact he struggled this week, through three tournaments McIlroy has posted respectably.
He has a T10, T5, and a solo second place finish. And when he went to Hong Kong to play, he took T5 again.
However, McIlroy failed to deliver this week. Ranked a second seed, McIlroy was run out of his match against Ben Crane, 8 & 7, the second worst defeat from when Tiger Woods disposed of Stephen Ames.
While I certainly can see him moving up, he needs to place well next week, and when he returns to Europe. What this week proved is why McIlroy is still in Europe: he still struggles with the American courses. And it isn't a bad thing. In fact, playing in Europe while he is young is better according to most professionals.
I think McIlroy certainly will be moving up in weeks to come, but as of now, he sits outside the top 10.
No. 12: Nick Watney
If you make rankings up based on the match play, Nick Watney just missed the top 10 for the first time in his 2011 season. Other than that, he has a T5 and two T6 finishes.
Despite his poor finish at the PGA, Watney didn't let it get to him for too long. He was back for the end of the season, and is out for blood this year.
Until we get a stroke play tournament with Watney outside the top 10, he is still one of the few players who are yet to finish outside the top ten, if not the only. You have to give him props for beating Lee Westwood. Despite the fact I didn't like Westwood in this ranking, he is still the official second best in the world, and that takes a lot to beat him.
No. 11: Matt Kuchar
Speak of consistency, let's talk about Matt Kuchar. He has three top tens in four tournaments. And he came in third at the Match Play, which in reality makes it four of five.
The one player that seems to be in it for over the past year or so is Kuchar. Last year, he came in the top 10 around half the time he played, and only had three tournaments which when he made the weekend he was outside the top 25.
What is great about Kuchar is how calm he is. That's why I have faith that he will be in the top ten on my next list. Because nothing seems to get to him. He is always just a calm and cool demeanor (the look seen left seems to be plastered on his face 24/7).
Kuchar seems to be very much at a level point in his game, but to take it to the next level, he needs to bring home another win.
No. 10: Charl Schwartzel
I know what everyone is probably saying: "Who?" And if you didn't, kudos to you for knowing about this man.
He hasn't played as much as the rest of the golfers, but then again, that's only by about a tournament or two.
But, in those three tournaments in Europe, Schwartzel has a T4, a T8, and a win at the Joburg Open (in his native South Africa).
This week, he lost a 17 year old player by the name of Matteo Manassero. You can't blame him for that, because Manassero had a lot of motivation and momentum coming into the match, knocking off Steve Stricker in his first match.
I think the hardest thing that I found to put Schwartzel up there is the fact that he is in Europe, and his play is less than almost everyone on this list.
Don't get me wrong, he deserves this spot. I just don't know if he has the stuff to stay here.
No. 9: Bubba Watson
Another one of the guys that you just can't hate in golf, Bubba Watson seems to have quite a fan base. Between his story and his distance off the tee, people are drawn to him.
There is not too much that separates him from the eighth ranked player on this list, other than consistency.
I don't know if he will ever find the consistency that he needs to be competitive with his swing, but it is certainly possible. He showed a flash of truly great golf this week, especially grinding out his comeback against JB Holmes.
As of now, Bubba is sitting at ninth on the list, certainly with room to improve.
No. 8: Paul Casey
Like I said, the separation from Bubba to Casey is consistency. And dominance.
Casey won by eight strokes when he won this season on the European Tour, over Rory McIlroy.
He is one of the most impressive players out, but this week he delivered a disappointment by failing to advance beyond the second round.
Other than that, he only had one missed cut at Qatar. He has a win at the Volvo Golf Champions, a T18 and a T6 in this new season.
I would have to say ranking Casey this poorly kind of shocked me, but it is just how he has played so far.
No. 7: Jhonattan Vegas
Vegas is very much like the next golfer on this ranking: he started out extremely well, but seems to have fallen into a lull since then.
So far, he has one win, a third place finish, and a T12 to his 2011 credit. Not too bad for being a rookie out on tour this year.
I'm not going to go making any big predictions to make Vegas seem like the next great coming. I don't think he is going to be quite that good. However, I can see Vegas winning within this year being a reasonable suggestion.
For now, Jhonattan Vegas is in the top 10 of this. Will he be next time? I'm going to venture what may be an unfair guess and say no.
No. 6: Mark Wilson
Like I said, this is a power ranking. It is not very far into the season, and Mark Wilson has two wins this year. So let's be fair to him and allow him to be on this list, for now.
In one month, no guarantees. For him to remain on this list, he has to make top 10s other than when he wins. Which to date, he hasn't done.
I hope that he finds a way to do so, because he is one of those guys who you just can't dislike for any real reasons.
But, for now, Mark Wilson is just outside the top five of this power ranking.
No. 5: Bill Haas
The second highest ranked player without a win this year, Bill Haas started the year by setting fire to the golf courses which he played. While he has cooled off since then, he is still one of the best to start 2011.
So far, he has a second, eighth, and a T9 to showcase his top 10s, and a T12 in addition. When your worst finish is a T29 on the year, you must be doing something right.
I know he hasn't produced what everyone on this list has. But hey, there has to be one pick that is a tiny bit controversial. And I don't think Haas is very controversial at this spot, but I'm willing to bet some of you do.
Other than winning, that is what Haas has done. If he doesn't win, however, I can't see him keeping this high.
No. 4: Luke Donald
Probably the shortest hitter on tour, Northwestern alum Luke Donald proves that hitting the ball long is not all the game of golf is about. To be honest, he probably has the nicest swing on tour, and is a player who is able to rely on his accuracy.
Despite this being his fourth tournament of the year, Donald has a T9 and a third place finish, along with a baffling missed cut.
This week's win over Martin Kaymer showed a lot. He played only 73 holes of golf to get there. Keep in mind, 72 holes is a normal tournaments, meaning that Donald played 17 less holes than possible (13 less than Kaymer). He didn't even play a full five rounds of golf in winning the championship.
His short game proved to be the best thing he has, as he came up clutch time after time, even when he hit a low point during his match against Kaymer.
Watch out for Luke Donald, I have him as my very early Open Championship favorite, if you checked that article out.
No. 3: Graeme McDowell
He seemed somewhat unbeatable by the end of last season, and it carried into this season.
A Ryder Cup hero, and a major champion, McDowell had everyone. And then he went to the Chevron, and confirmed that he was the best golfer in the world at that time.
While McDowell's success this year have not included a win yet, let's be serious. He is still one of the best players in golf right now. He has a second, third, and fifth place finish alongside a T13.
It wouldn't shock me if McDowell were to move up in the next ranking, in a month. That's a lot of time for someone of his talent to play with on the golf course.
His game is on an upswing (from a high level already), and he certainly deserves this rank.
No. 2: Alvaro Quiros
A shift toward the European side of things, Alvaro Quiros is currently the top player in the early running of the Race to Dubai.
He has a win, second, and third place since the Dubai World Championship, and is yet to finish outside the top 25 in the new season (having a T8 and T23 finish as well).
Other than Y.E. Yang pulling off an upset, Quiros is certainly one of the top golfers, and he hasn't been as recognized because he is on the European Tour.
But watch out for Quiros. He is a dangerous player, and he bombs the ball too.
Number two on this list, after a lot of thought, had to go to Quiros.
No. 1: Martin Kaymer
The Official World Golf Rankings finally have a real number one. His name is Martin Kaymer, for those of you who refused to read the top of the slide.
His pedigree? In the past two years he has won seven tournaments. Oh, and one of those was the PGA Championship less than six months ago.
I don't know how it took this long for Kaymer to overtake Lee Westwood in the Official World Golf Rankings, but on this list, he doesn't have to wait a day to do so, because he is starting as the best.
So far, Kaymer has a T13, and two finishes around 30. He also won at Abu Dhabi, continuing his hot streak that he seems to have at this tournament.
His finals appearance this week at the World Golf Accenture Match Play solidifies his spot atop this list. Normally I would say he should have win to get in, but truth is he didn't.
Here's to you, Mr. New Number One in the World.
**Look for the rankings to be updated monthly, and after majors as well.