I debated about writing this article because it is so subjective that I was not sure I had a defined point of view. As I plunk away at the keyboard, I muse about if dropping in the world ranking is really a valuable subject or not. After some deliberation, I decided to give this topic a try and see where we end up. If you are wondering what sparked my sudden interest in golf’s world ranking (which I normally do not focus too much attention on), well I read that Phil Mickelson dropped to 101 and Rory McIlroy dropped to 11 in the world rankings. Neither of these players slide is surprising or is it?
Before delving into today’s topic, my personal standpoint is that the world golf rankings do not hold water. They might be fun to talk about, but do they really provide anything more than something to talk about?
First I will talk about Phil Mickelson. At 50 years old, his decline in the world ranking is not surprising. With the current field of young lions on the PGA Tour, winning becomes more challenging every weekend. He has not won since 2019, but his performance was starting to decline since as seen by increase of miss cuts over the past three years. It is challenging to determine what is causing his poorer play of late, but he is not finishing high or winning any PGA Tour events. Hence, he has slowly dropped out of the top 100. Interestingly, the Champions Tour Events are not included in the calculations. If it did, Bernhard Langer would be ranked higher than 722 in the world….right?
There almost seems to be an expectation that players over the age of 45 become irrelevant on the PGA Tour and world stage. Although their names (Mickelson, Woods, Langer) still have star power, their performances on the PGA Tour are less then stellar. They are respected for sure, but nobody really thinks they will compete week in and week out. And so the decline begins. The expectation is they will continue to contribute to sales and marketing, but playing golf almost becomes second to their new role.
Rory McIlroy is a different kettle of fish. At 31 years old, McIlroy is expected to compete during every event and win a few times each year. As the defending champion from 2019, The Players Championship might vault him back up the standings if he play very well or even win. McIlroy is expected to compete each week and as such, has fallen under a great deal of scrutiny for his play of late. It seems as if his drop out of the top 10 players in the world is a critical milestone, but personally I think it is just something the golfing world can write about. One of the top players not playing up to his potential. This is where my view of the world rankings change dramatically.
Can anyone really say that Rory McIlroy is not (on any given day) one of the top three golfers in the world. On any given day, any professional golfer has a chance to win. Some, like McIlroy, have proved to be top performers and as such can beat the best players in the world without breaking a sweat.
So, I circle back to my original view that the world rankings can be fun to talk about, but really offer no value other than maybe bragging rights. So, the fact that Mickelson and McIlroy have slid in the world ranking is not really that news worthy, but it opens the doors to discussion that might lead to something valuable to talk about.