Don't mistake Player of the Year for No. 1

Friday December 3rd, 2010
Under Peter Kostis's proposed ranking system, 2010 PGA Champion Martin Kaymer would be the World Player of the Year.
Kohjiro Kinno/SI

I've heard some grumbling from the usual quarters over the validity of the Official World Golf Rankings, which allowed Tiger Woods to stay No. 1 during his almost year-long slump and then awarded Lee Westwood the top spot despite the white-hot play of Martin Kaymer, who capped his PGA Championship win by tearing off consecutive victories on the European Tour.

The truth is that the Official World Golf Rankings have served us well since their debut in 1986. The rankings factor in a player's performance over the last two years, and, by and large, they're pretty fair. They must be fair, because you hardly ever hear the players complain about them, which is remarkable because the rankings have become hugely important in determining who gets into the majors.

The real reason it took so long to unseat Tiger as the No. 1 player is that he was so much better than everyone else for so long. Tiger had earned a lot of equity with his play over the years, and it makes sense that it took almost a year for Lee Westwood to win the top spot. Like Woods, Westwood deserves the No. 1 ranking for consistently playing well over the last two years.

Still, there's no question that Kaymer is the hottest player in golf. The solution is to keep the rankings as they are, but create a special one-year ranking to determine the World Player of the Year. As it stands now, the players on the European and PGA tours vote for their tour's player of the year, which is about as subjective as it gets. Plus, golf is a worldwide game now, so the Player of the Year award should be a worldwide honor, eligible to golfers on either tour.

Under my scenario, the player who gets the most world ranking points in his best 15 events (so we don't penalize guys who play more) is the World Player of the Year. This year, the player with the most world ranking points is Martin Kaymer, followed by Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. (Tiger is 57th.) You get the best of both worlds. Westwood is your World No. 1 for his steadily brilliant play, while Kaymer is your World Player of the Year for his torrid 2010. If the tours still want to give out their awards, that's fine, but we don't need to pay attention to them.

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