If Vijay Singh overtakes Tiger Woods as the No. 1 golfer in the world golf rankings this week, which is a very good possibility, Singh will have
earned that spot in more ways than one.
The rankings system has come under criticism with good reason this year as Woods continues to hold down the top spot despite the fact that his only
victory came in the Accenture Match Play Championship in February. In fact, the Accenture has been his only win since October, and he wasn't in
contention in any of this year's four majors.
Woods might be the fourth-best player in the world right now, unless you put your trust in the world rankings, which might be the equivalent of
college football's BCS poll.
But he remains No. 1 because the rankings are based on a two-year period, and a player's performance two years ago is pretty old news, as David Duval
With his victory in last week's PGA Championship, which was his fifth of the season, Singh narrowed the gap to .10 points. Ernie Els, who finished in
the top 10 in all four majors, is just .55 behind Woods in the rankings.
Woods has held the top spot for a record 332 weeks, including 262 weeks in a row. What makes Singh's ranking all the more impressive is that he has
overcome the biggest flaw in the ranking system, and one that has helped Woods stay on top for that long.
Points are accumulated based on a player's finish in a tournament and the strength of the field he is playing against, and those point values are
increased for major championships, all of which is fair enough. But that number is divided by the number of tournaments played, and in some cases that
penalizes golfers who play a heavier schedule.
Singh, who is an ironman among pro golfers, has racked up 209 more points than Woods over the last two years, but has played in 58 events while Woods
has a divisor of 40.
With that system, players often improve their world ranking by not playing at a time when PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is encouraging golfers to
play in more events.
"What hurts Vijay is he plays so many tournaments," Jesper Parnevik said two months ago. "They entice us to play more, and a lot of guys have done
that. Then, they get hurt by it in the world ranking."
It hurts because the rankings now are used to determine exemptions in 11 events, including the four majors and three World Golf Championship events,
which offer the biggest prize purses.
Seeing that he was on the bubble in the rankings, Paul Azinger has sat out twice the week before those big events in order to stay in the top 50 and
get into the field.
"The problem we have with it are all the big tournaments base their entry on that," Bob Tway told the Palm Beach Post. "If that's the case, then the
system needs to be pretty doggone perfect. And I don't know if it ever can be. We've been complaining about it ever since it came out."
To his credit, Singh isn't complaining about his ranking and isn't about to cut back on his schedule, although he has said several times that it is
his goal to be No. 1.
"There is a lot of talk that a system should be created where you're not penalized for playing a lot more events, like I do, but how are you going to
figure that out?" he said at the PGA Championship.
"We all follow the world ranking, and at present that's what we have to abide by, unless somebody comes up with something better."