How the World's Finest Rated at Royal Portrush
THE world rankings are a big deal in golf. If you are in the top 50 it means you get into all the majors and the World Golf Championship events, as well as picking up some pretty lucrative bonuses from sponsors. After his victory at The Open Championship, Shane Lowry leads the Race to Dubai and finds himself at a career-high 17th in the rankings. Here we take a look at the top 10 in the rankings and give them our own ratings based on how they performed at Royal Portrush
1 - Brooks Koepka
It is impossible to argue against Koepka’s standing at the top of the pile. This season alone he has won the US PGA Championship and finished second at both The Masters and the US Open. By his own admission, he putted horribly at Royal Portrush, struggling to get used to the pace of the greens. But guess what? He still finished in a tie for fourth place. He is a very special talent.
2 - Dustin Johnson
DJ is not having the best season of his life. He discovered at Royal Portrush that you cannot beat great links courses into submission. There were times when he appeared ready to make a charge, but every time he got himself into position to do so he made a mistake. And, like Koepka, he putted poorly all week.
3 - Rory McIlroy
Oh Rory! The Northern Irishman arrived at Royal Portrush with such high hopes. His dreams were in tatters after he hit his opening drive out of bounds and then found an unplayable lie with his fourth shot. He started his challenge with an eight, dropped a shot at the third and was five over par after three holes. And it only got worse. He was devastated afterwards. He picked himself up on day two and thrilled the crowds with a stunning round of 65. But no matter how you measure it, he missed the cut by a shot and headed off back to the United States after another winless season in the majors.
4 - Justin Rose
Had such high hopes going into the final round. He did incredibly well to fight his way into contention during a week when he left his A-game at home. It is a measure of his talent, determination and scrambling abilities that he found himself in the frame after 54 holes. But if you are not swinging the club well you are going to be found out when the wind blows. And he was. He stumbled to a final round of 79 and went from fourth to a tie for 20th.
5 - Tiger Woods
Looked like he wanted to be anywhere else during the opening round when the wind and rain were at their worst. He was clearly in pain and although things got better in round two, he is currently a man who seems to be battling to keep control of his battered body. Finally, the years are catching up. Has hardly played any competitive golf this year - and boy did it show.
6 - Francesco Molinari
The Italian made a stout defence of his title. He was lucky enough to have the best of the weather on his side during the final round and took full advantage, finishing his defence with a magnificent round of 66. As everybody else frittered shots away, Molinari climbed 44 places on the leaderboard and completed the week in a tie for 11th. He can and should be proud of his efforts.
7 - Bryson DeChambeau
The so-called Scientist was left bewildered and befuddled by the challenges thrown up by Royal Portrush. He believes he is the best golfer in the world and that his unorthodox technique will work anywhere. The jury is still out, but on this evidence he still has a lot of work to do. A week he will want to forget.
8 - Jon Rahm
Fo many people he was the favourite. This was based on his victory in the Irish Open at Lahinich two weeks earlier. And he talked up his chances too. But links golf requires patience, and although he managed to hang around for three rounds, it all came undone when he pulled out a driver at the first hole, found a bunker, took two to escape and dropped two shots on the opening hole on Sunday. Things didn’t get any better. To his credit, the Spaniard continued to battle, shot a 75 and finished in a tie for 11th. But it was not the week he wanted.
9 - Justin Thomas
Thomas is still trying to rediscover his best form after recovering from injury earlier in the season. And he looks like a man who will one day win The Open. He certainly has the game. But he struggled throughout the week to come to terms with the pace of the greens - they were immaculate but were much slower than those who play on the PGA Tour are used to. But this final round of 72 was one of the better efforts of the day and saw him earn a tie for 11th.
10 - Patrick Cantlay
People who know about these things will tell you that Cantlay is the next superstar-in-waiting but, frankly, his world ranking is a mystery. He has yet to look like winning a major and although he produced some flashes of brilliance throughout the week at Royal Portrush, he generally appeared to be bemused by the challenge. Finished 17 shots behind Lowry.
And the best of the rest…
12 - Tony Finau
Showed the other big hitters how it should be done. Yes, he hits the ball a country mile, but he also knows when to leave the big stick in the bag and haul out an iron. While others were collapsing, the popular American negotiated the windswept Royal Portrush in 71 shots. His first major is surely not far away.
13 - Tommy Fleetwood
Another major and another near-miss for the Englishman. It is a measure of the standard he has reached that he will have left Northern Ireland bitterly disappointed to have finished second again. His time will come.
17 - Shane Lowry
Will somebody please explain how it is possible that despite winning twice this season, including The Open Championship, his world ranking only rises from 33 to 17? Was world-class all week at Royal Portrush and his ranking will surely only continue to go in one direction now. Was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish.
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