Kaymer could take No. 1 this week as golf continues to go global
An 18-year-old from Japan shot 58, Northern Ireland grew into a global force, a 17-year-old Italian became the European Tour's youngest winner ever (in Spain), and now a 25-year-old German could become the No. 1 player in the world.
Martin Kaymer has three victories this season on the European Tour, and a win at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits — his first major title. If he wins or finishes in a two-way tie for second at this week's Andalucia Masters in Valderrama, Spain, he'll take the No. 1 spot from Tiger Woods, who has held it for most of the past 12 years. His current run of 281 weeks started in June 2005. (If Kaymer doesn't take over, Lee Westwood will, even though neither Woods nor Westwood is playing this week.)
Woods won't have to wait long for an opportunity to win back his ranking; he will play in next week's HBSC Championship in Shanghai. Kaymer, Westwood and Phil Mickelson will also be in the field, and all will likely have a mathematical chance to rise to No. 1.
As Kaymer's climb in the ranking demonstrates, excellence keeps coming at us from all corners; it's hard to know where to look next. With the PGA Tour idle this week, reminders of the game's global reach will not only come from Kaymer's quest on the European tour, but also from events played in the U.S., Malaysia and South Korea.
Won Joon Lee, a South Korean native who moved to Australia at age 4, is the biggest mover going into this week's season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island in Charleston, S.C.
After T2 and T4 finishes in his last two starts, Lee has gone from 65th to 33rd on the Nationwide money list heading into the last of 29 tournaments on the developmental circuit.
The top 25 after Sunday make the PGA Tour in 2011.
"My main goal was to try to finish top 40 on the money list," Lee, 25, told pgatour.com. Players who finish between 26-40 in Nationwide money are exempted into PGA Tour Q school finals, Dec. 1-6.
Chris Nallen, No. 25, and Brant Jobe, No. 26, are separated by just $1,217. Gentlemen, start your bean-counting.
Meanwhile, the first stage of the three-stage Q school began at sites across the country Tuesday.
"Every year a new class of guys come up from the Nationwide Tour and come up from the PGA Tour qualifying school who are better every year, and better prepared, and they have a better chance of winning week to week," Jonathan Byrd said in a news conference this week in the wake of his playoff ace and win in Las Vegas late Sunday.
"That's just the Nationwide Tour and what a great job they do in producing good players," Byrd continued. "Then just these college guys are better. They're just better golfers. I feel like I'm an aging professional golfer. I'm 32. I'm still young. I'm in the prime of my career, but I'm not stupid."
Jamie Lovemark ($422,000), Chris Kirk ($411,000) and Tommy Gainey ($397,000) lead the money list, respectively. Whoever finishes the season on top is exempt into the 2011 Players Championship.
Bigger names will tee it up at the inaugural CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia at the Mines Resort and Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design in Selangor, Malaysia.
The 40-player CIMB, sanctioned by the PGA Tour, the Asian Tour and the PGA of Malaysia, won't count toward official PGA Tour earnings, but it is the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Southeast Asia.
That's one reason why the tournament has attracted such a strong field, including K.J. Choi, Tim Clark, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Retief Goosen and Adam Scott.
Bernhard Langer, golf's leading long-tooth, and the 50-and-overs will play their penultimate Champions tour event at the AT&T Championship at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio.
Watch out for John Cook, who has two wins and a fifth in this event, and Russ Cochran, who has won twice since he tied for second a stroke behind Phil Blackmar at the 2009 AT&T.
Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and Jiyai Shin headline the LPGA Hana Bank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Club, Oceans Course, in Incheon, South Korea.