Will the Real No. 1 Please Stand Up?
By mustang6560 on 3/14/11
Does golf benefit from having an outright No. 1 golfer?

It depends on who you talk to. If you ask a casual golf fan, I think they would say yes. But, if you ask a true golf fan, I think they would say not knowing who the outright best golfer is at this moment makes following golf on the weekends, especially Sunday's, more compelling.

Look at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. After 36 holes, it looked like Hunter Mahan was unstoppable. Then, Dustin Johnson shot a 65 on Sunday to take a two-stroke lead, only to have watch it slip away to Nick Watney on Sunday.

To the "I watch the Masters every year" golf fan, the "parody" in golf right now might cause them to further lose interest. No matter the sport, it definitely is hard to care about an event if you don't know the new faces who are playing AND if the person (team) you follow is not in contention. Having Tiger as the No. 1 golfer week-in and week-out definitely helped attract casual fans.

But, for the "I watch the Golf Channel seven days a week" golf fans, I think the fact that there is no outright No. 1 increases their interest in the game. Luke Donald won the Accenture Match Play and jumped from No. 9 to No. 3. Kaymer's second place finish was enough for him to jump Lee Westwood. Tiger fell to No. 5, Phil to No. 6.

Knowing that the official world golf rankings positions are subject to change on a weekly basis is exciting. When Tiger was No. 1, he had what seemed like a stranglehold on the top position for most weeks. In 2011, we could potentially see the most number one changes in a long time.

That goes back to the question at hand, does golf benefit from having an outright No. 1 golfer? And I think the answer is no. What's more important than a consistent No. 1 golfer is a great rivalry. Every sport needs a great rivalry and for the last few year's, it was Tiger vs. Phil with Tiger getting the edge. But, not only is Tiger struggling, Phil isn't doing anything exciting either.

Think about tennis, for example. You may not know anything about the sport, but you know to watch Roger Federer vs. Rafa Nadal any time they play a match, especially during the French Open or Wimbledon.

So what golf is missing more now is a good rivalry. I hope that golf can develop a new one between Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler? Southern California vs. Northern Ireland. Or maybe between Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson. Battle of the big hitters. If they need any help getting a rivalry started, I'd be happy to start some rumors to get things heated up.

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