Golf: The Greatest Equalizer
By Marvin Mohan
Initially, this article was going to analyse the current #1 world rankings in golf – Dustin Johnson and So Yeon Ryu, in an attempt to arrive at the World #1 ranking irrespective of gender. Not only am I disappointed that I couldn’t use the comparative ranking graph available on the official website to run this experiment, but the fact that on the same official page, women’s golf isn’t showcased. That my fellow enthusiasts, is going to be an article for another day…and it will no doubt be longer than a twitter post. www.owgr.com
So onto to the 2nd choice topic – how golf is by far the greats equalizer in sport EVER! Whether a competitive or casual Sunday game, we are almost always left sobbing and glaze-eyed at the fact that a lesser golfer (assumption based on handicap, lack of shiny equipment, new shoes or that unconventional swing) was able to obliterate us on the score card. And if you happen to be the ringing f@#$ on a single digit handicap, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But, hands off the amateurs, lets zoom in on the pro’s and analyse how the current men’s world #1 unseated who some say is the greatest golfer of his generation and probably all time…the ‘lesser spotted’ Tiger Woods. As at 6 August 2017, Tiger was ranked 1,069 in the world. This after spending a total of 683 weeks as world #1.
From Gladiator… To a younger version of OJ Simpson
Now, my intention is not to belittle or ridicule one man’s ‘riches to rags’ tale over the success of another. We all have our pitfalls and demons. We will stick to the golf, although those very same pitfalls and demons are without a doubt what has led to the demise of Mr Woods.
The results speak for themselves….
Woods entered the fray in March 1994 with a world ranking of #736. Is was a short 3 years to reach #1 in July of 1997.
Johnson on the other hand, entered in July 2007, ranked #1,360. It would take him 10 years to realise a #1 position in February 2017.
Now, you’d think that the massive receding hairline on Mr. Woods could be attributed to him worrying about the many challengers on the field…clearly not. If he didn’t have his ‘eyes wide shut’ on the many 19 holes we later became aware of, he might have spotted JD in the rear-view mirror.
The signs were there from as early as 2009. In February of 2009, Woods maintained his #1 ranking, while the unimpressive DJ, crept from #1,360 to an astonishing #119.
This trend continued, and a year later, DJ shaved another 93 positions to lift himself to the occasion of a champion in #26 ranking. If you have the time and a lot more interest in following the personal lives of Woods and DJ, I’m sure you would be able to pin-point moments in their lives and game that contributed to the shifts, up or down. I’m 1. Not interested and 2. Don’t have the time, so you’ll have to be satisfied with a numbers comparison and my Wikipedia conclusions.
The turning point….end 2010 early 2011 season saw the rankings catapult into reverse gear. By June 2011, the tiger changed his spots and DJ went for the jugular. DJ ranked #9 and Woods slipping further and further off the commentators notes at #15
From 2011 to 2014 the pair traded rankings until DJ landed the final blows towards the end on 2014. The last real competition between the two left DJ ranked #15 and Woods at #17. That was the last time the pair would come so close to trading places.
Unfortunately, Woods has never been greater than his early 90’s rise to fame. As at September 2017, he is ranked #1,136 (only 224 positions off where DJ started his career).
The die-hard golfers will want to retort on the practice routines players go through, the advancement in technology that changed the game from wooden cleavers to graphite sling shots, etc etc. I intentionally haven’t commented on those aspects, as we take as given. None of these players would arrive for tour in less that top condition, sporting fitted equipment and so and so forth. It’s all a mind game and the game always wins. The game equalized the field so that a new champ could be christened.
So moral of the story.
- Too many 19th holes of any variety can fukup your game
- Always check your rear-view mirror, there’s always someone on the field who wants it more than you do
- Number 1,360 has just as much chance of becoming #1 and vice versa
- Accept upfront that the game of golf cannot be won, not by anyone, no matter the shiny equipment and single digit handicaps, and in the words of Ricky Bobby…
- ‘if you aint first, your last!’