LOS ANGELES – Getting to No. 1 in the world is difficult enough. Staying there for an entire year is even tougher.
Except for Tiger Woods.
Scottie Scheffler won the WM Phoenix Open on Sunday to replace Rory McIlroy at No. 1 in the world, keeping alive a remarkable trend. Not since Woods in 2009 has a player started the year at No. 1 and stayed on top all the way through the end of December.
Woods also did that in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Before that, he was No. 1 for all of 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
The only others to be No. 1 for an entire calendar year since the ranking began in 1986 were Nick Faldo (1993) and Greg Norman (1996).
That speaks to either the utter dominance of Woods (probably) or the increasing depth of top talent (possibly).
Dustin Johnson stayed at No. 1 for 64 weeks from February 2017 until May 2018. That’s the longest stretch by anyone since Woods (281 weeks).
Scheffler, McIlroy and Jon Rahm each have a chance to reach No. 1 at Riviera this week.
The way golf is going, it’s more likely to see a year like 2020 when five players reached No. 1 at some point during the year.
TWICE AS NICE
Stacy Lewis will return as Solheim Cup captain in 2024 while still waiting to make her debut in the role in September.
Lewis is the U.S. captain for the matches in Spain this September. The Solheim Cup is returning to being played in even-numbered years once the Ryder Cup moved back to odd-numbered years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Receiving the first call was one of the highest points of my career, and I am truly grateful to add this second opportunity,” Lewis said. “To have the chance to lead our country’s best players twice, and especially in 2024 outside our nation’s capital, is a true privilege.”
The 2024 matches will be at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia.
Lewis will be the fifth American to be captain at least twice in the Solheim Cup. Juli Inkster was captain three times.
The PGA Tour went more than 50 years without having an international player on its policy board, and now it will have two in the span of three years.
Adam Scott has been elected chairman of the 16-member Player Advisory Council, which advises the player directors on various PGA Tour issues. As chairman, the Australian will take a seat on the board for a three-year term that starts in 2024.
Scott's election comes two years after Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland became the first international player to be elected PAC chairman. McIlroy now is on the board.
Scott has spent nearly two decades on the PGA Tour without ever having interest in being a PAC member, which is not to suggest he didn't have his share of opinions. Only a year ago, he spoke openly about the appeal of LIV Golf.
But while he was looked upon as a prime candidate, Scott never pursued it. He said at the Sony Open he wanted to join the PAC because of changes ahead for the PGA Tour, not anything to do with LIV.
“I’m more interested in what the tour is planning on doing with the tour, not how we’re fighting a lawsuit, because I couldn’t care less about that,” Scott said in Hawaii. “I'm more interested in what the future of the tour looks like.”
Two global golf events are scheduled to end on Oct. 1, and they have nothing in common except for an extraordinary amount of pressure.
One is the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone in Italy. The Europeans have not lost on home soil in 30 years and, given the beating two years ago in Whistling Straits, they are desperate to regain the cup.
The other is more personal, at least to South Koreans. The Asian Games, postponed a year because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, are scheduled for Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Hangzhou, China.
The Korea Golf Association has adopted new criteria that will allow for two professionals. The Asian Games previously allowed only amateurs.
Sungjae Im and Sony Open winner Si Woo Kim both have said they hope to be there.
At stake for them is a chance to avoid mandatory military service. South Korean men are exempt from military service if they win a medal in the Olympics, or if they win a gold medal in the Asian Games.
Kim turns 28 in June, so this might be his last chance. Im, who turns 25 in March, would likely get another shot at the Olympics in Paris if he doesn’t win gold in the Asian Games.
Maja Stark and Linn Grant finished 1-2 in the Lalla Meryem Cup on the Ladies European Tour last week, and it should be no surprise the Swedish duo are 1-2 in the Solheim Cup standings for Europe.
Both are 23 and turned pro in August 2021, Grant having playing at Arizona State and Stark at Oklahoma State.
Grant has four wins on the LET, one of them a mixed event that was co-sanctioned by the European tour. She is No. 23 in the world.
Stark’s victory Sunday in Morocco was her fifth on the LET, to go along with a victory in the ISPS Handa World Invitational that was co-sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and the LET. She is at No. 32 in the world. In 39 events worldwide, Stark has 23 finishes in the top 10 dating to the summer of 2021.
Jon Rahm crossed the $40 million mark in PGA Tour career earnings in his 131st start. ... Texas Tech senior Jack Wall shot 71 and won the Collegiate Showcase at Riviera on the second playoff hole to earn a spot in the Genesis Invitational. ... The USGA is using three courses to host final U.S. Open qualifying for the first time: Old Chatham in Durham, North Carolina; Hillcrest in Los Angeles; and Pine Tree in Boynton Beach, Florida. It will be the first time since 1979 a final 36-hole qualifier will be in North Carolina. ... Dru Love, the son of Davis Love III, makes his Asian Tour debut this week in the International Series Qatar. Love earned his card through the qualifying tournament but received a sponsor exemption to play in Qatar. ... LIV Golf has 20 players from the top 100 in the world ranking, but only six of them are among the top 50. Dustin Johnson fell out of the top 50 this week for the first time in 13 years. He has not received world ranking points since his tie for sixth in the British Open. ... Barracuda Networks has extended its title sponsorship on the PGA Tour through 2025. The Barracuda Championship, held opposite the British Open, is the only PGA Tour event that uses the modified Stableford scoring.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Nick Taylor made $2.18 million for his runner-up finish in the WM Phoenix Open, more than he had made in any of his previous eight seasons on the PGA Tour.
“Typically when I’m in the mix on Sundays I get no sleep that night. I miss that. I’ve been sleeping quite nicely over the last two years.” — Jason Day, who is coming up on five years since his last victory.
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