With the conclusion of the PGA Tour regular season and the FedEx Cup, golf in the United States will begin to wind down with the Fall Series. However, the European Tour is beginning to heat up as they steam ahead in the Race to Dubai, and as an extra bonus, there is another WGC on the 2011 Calendar when the HSBC Champions takes place in Shanghai this November.
While the major tournaments and noteworthy events on the PGA Tour are over for 2011, there is still much to be viewed, and potentially won (if you are playing on the European Tour) as the calendar year winds down to an end.
With these tournaments upcoming during the North American off-season, let’s take a look at the top five golfers in the world and their outlook going forward.
Dustin Johnson was victorious at The Barclays, the opening tournament of the FedEx Cup.
That victory in New Jersey would be the only one of the season for Johnson, whose name was tipped to be a new major winner in 2011.
The other best finish for the South Carolina native would be a runner-up performance at Doral.
Johnson is rumored to be heading to the European Tour possibly full-time. However, his first order of business will need to be finding a new caddy since his current bag-mate is making the switch to help out Tiger Woods.
Steve Stricker completed a rock solid 2011 with an 18th place finish in the FedEx Cup.
He had two wins this season, albeit minor events at the Memorial and the John Deere Classic.
Stricker held the lead after 18 holes at the PGA Championship, but faded to a T12 position. In fact, he was close, but never managed to crack the top ten in all four majors this season.
It was a lucrative season for Stricker, who earned close to $4,000,000. However, Stricker is still winless in majors and will need to change that if he wants to climb up the OWGR leader board any higher.
Rory McIlroy has yet to make a lot of noise since his remarkable win at Congressional in the US Open.
The only major winner in the current Top 5 of the OWGR, McIlroy will look to come back stronger in 2012 while competing in some tournaments on the European circuit.
If he puts up a good showing through the Middle East portion of the Euro schedule, McIlroy will have a chance to move up the leader board, given the amount of money that is played for in the desert and by virtue of his US Open championship.
It’s true he was the feel good story of 2011, but the golf world will look for more out of the youngster from Northern Ireland in 2012.
Lee Westwood continued his search for a first major title this season but came up empty in all four attempts.
His best finish in a major was T3 in the US Open, however he did capture the Ballantines Championship back in May in South Korea.
The Englishman will now focus on the European Tour and defending his title in the Race to Dubai. If he is successful, Westwood will be able to cash tournament checks and keep his ranking on the list of the planet’s best.
Luke Donald's three wins this season propelled him to the top of the OWGC. However, one of the great complaints about the world golf rankings is the fact that it does not greatly factor in major championships.
The man under Donald was also No.1 without a major title to his name, however both are consistent golfers that rarely miss out on the Top 25 best, let alone miss a cut.
If Donald would like to cement his name in this spot he would need to find major success in North America.
He may go to the desert late this year to try and win money, but he will need to win a major title to silence his critics.
While four of the previous names look to move to the top of this list, it is up to the current leader to keep his name where it is. If Luke Donald can have some early success – perhaps a repeat victory in the WGC Match Play Championship – he should be able to retain his status.
However, there are a bunch of golfers under these five names that can move up the list fairly quickly, especially those who have major championship trophies.
While the FedEx Cup has come to a conclusion, golf will steam ahead starting first with the Presidents Cup. We look forward to seeing Johnson, Stricker, McIlroy, Westwood and Donald, along with the other world’s best in Melbourne.