A look at the five golf stories that we’re talking about this week, including one involving Tiger Woods (what else is new!?); plus a piece on PGA Tour stats and streaks; along with a pair of stories involving European stars who’ll be full-timers on the PGA Tour this season; and news about Justin Rose’s deal with Japanese luxury club-maker Honma.
1. CAN TIGER WOODS GET TO NO. 1 AGAIN?
ESPN’s Bob Harig spins up a piece on the probability of Tiger Woods returning to the top spot in the world next year. Reader warning: The scenario laid out by Harig is about as easy to follow as the convoluted Official World Golf Rankings system.
It is almost impossible to quantify exactly what Woods needs to do to get back on top. Obviously rattling off a five-victory season — which included the Players Championship and two World Golf Championship titles — as he did in 2013 could do it.
He probably needs some kind of combination of four victories in regular tournaments or perhaps a major or WGC win (where more world ranking points are offered) and a handful of top-10s.
If you want a more technical answer and are well-versed in the workings of the OWGR, here is one way to look at it, according to Ian Barker, director of data services for the European Tour, which helps administer the ranking system.
Barker explained that Woods will have a minimum of 174 world ranking points as of April 14, 2018 — the Sunday of the Masters. He is at 219 now. And his tournament divisor will stay at a minimum of 40. (Players who play fewer than 40 times in a two-year period are given the minimum.)
“I estimate an average points figure of 11.00 at that time would be enough to be No. 1,” Barker said. (Koepka is at 9.9155 average points right now.) “To achieve that average on that date, Tiger’s total points would need to be 440. So if he wins 226 OWGR points between now and then, he’ll probably be back to No. 1.”
How would he do that? Well, by winning often. As Barker points out, that probably would require three big wins at tournaments such as WGC-Mexico (probably 72 points to the winner), Arnold Palmer (60), the Players Championship (80), the WGC-Dell Match Play (74) and the Masters (100) would all offer those opportunities.
2. GOLF’S MOST IMPRESSIVE STREAKS
Golf.com’s stats guru Mark Broadie identifies some of golf’s most impressive runs, including Phil Mickelson’s beat-the-field streak of 19 rounds in a row.
Who had the longest beat-the-field streak in the 2018 PGA Tour season? That award goes to Phil Mickelson, with a run of 19 rounds in a row. His streak started at the end of January, in round four of the Farmers Insurance Open, and ended the last week of March, in round three of the Houston Open. That two-month stretch included one win and four top-10 finishes.
Here are the beat-the-field-streak leaders in recent seasons (with one clarifying note — these numbers allow for a streak to be carried over from the previous season): Jon Rahm, 22 rounds in 2017; Danny Willett, 14 in 2016; Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, both at 22 in 2015; Bubba Watson, 23 in 2014; Zach Johnson, 22 in 2013; Rickie Fowler, 19 in 2012; and Luke Donald, 26 in 2011.
3. RORY FOCUSED EXCLUSIVELY ON THE PGA TOUR
GolfDigest.com’s Dave Shedloski writes about Rory McIlroy’s plans for 2019, and how the Northern Ireland superstar intends to focus solely on the PGA Tour in 2019, where ‘you play for more money, more ranking points.’
A new year tends to bring new perspective, new beginnings, new goals and hopes and, with that, a sense of leaving some things behind, too. Which is where we find Rory McIlroy today as he prepares for his debut in the Sentry Tournament of Champions here at idyllic Kapalua Resort.
McIlroy, in a sense, is embarking on what might be considered the next phase of his career. A new reality of his own making. The four-time major champion from Northern Ireland is all but leaving the Old World for the New World, shedding his European roots to concentrate on a life in America and a career with much more emphasis on the PGA Tour.
The duel tug of heart and ambition outweigh everything else. Easy decision.
“Easy,” he echoes. “My life’s here [in the U.S.]. I have an American wife. I live in America. Honestly, I enjoy it here more. The way of life is easier. The weather. The convenience.”
4. MOLINARI TOO
The Associated Press’ news wire reports that 2018 British Open champion Francesco Molinari also plans to play primarily in the states in 2019, at least through the British Open.
Francesco Molinari said he may not play in Europe until he tries to defend his title at The Open in July.
The lure of the U.S. PGA Tour and changes made to the European Tour calendar will combine to leave the London-based 19th-ranked player short of available dates to compete on his home circuit next year.
Molinari, 36, is even struggling to commit to the British Masters in May, despite receiving an invitation from tournament host, close friend and Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood.
“I would like to play the British Masters but it depends probably on the first couple of months of the season,” Molinari said. “If I learnt one thing this season, it is to be a bit flexible with the schedule playing two tours.
5. ROSE SWITCHES TO HONMA
Golfweek’s David Dusek confirms long-simmering rumors that Justin Rose has signed with Honma, the luxury Japanese brand. Rose will reportedly play 10 Honma clubs, carry its bag and place its logo on both sides of his hat.
According to John Kawaja, a consultant to Honma, Rose’s contract is for 10 clubs, including the driver. He is not under contract to play a specific golf ball, and it is anticipated he will continue to play the TaylorMade TP5. He will use a Honma bag, and Honma will be on both sides of his hat. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“When we thought about the ideal golfer that aligns with our company values, everything pointed to Justin Rose,” said Liu Jianguo, chairman of Honma Golf. “Justin is a world-class player, and beyond that, a gentleman and family man. We are ecstatic to have him on the Honma team.”