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When you think about the best golfer in the world, who do you think of? Is it automatically your first thought to think about who is ranked #1 according to the Sony World Rankings? Are there other criteria you feel are necessary in order to determine the best golfer in the world?

There are various viewpoints from differing governing bodies, sports writers, talking heads, and golfers in general. No matter what criteria you feel is the most important I will categorically state that there is one thing that rises above any and all points of view. I’ll get to that in a moment…

Sony rankings rate a player’s rankings higher if they win or finish high in a tournament that has more of the top players in the field. But what’s funny (and almost arbitrary) about that is it’s the Sony rankings that determines who the top players are who are in a given field. Ok, now let’s continue with this a little further…

Sony determines what a players ranking is. Players with high Sony rankings enter a tournament and make it a “quality field”. “Big” tournaments like the World Golf Championships evolved on the scene to put a spotlight on the top players. To get into these events you must have a high, you guessed it, Sony World Ranking. The ranking points placed on these events are higher than regular events.

Do the Sony World Golf Rankings Really Determine Who’s Best?

So those who had high Sony Rankings, and are one of the chosen ones, get into these bigger events and are assured of even higher placement in the official world rankings. Hmmm, seems a little incestuous don’t you think? Is a guy who is 1 single point behind the players who are eligible to enter these big events really that much worse than the guy one point ahead of him, or two or three? And now that player who was one measly point ahead will get a boost in rankings just because he’s in the field.

I look at these big events like a boys club. It’s like the “in crowd,” the exclusive insiders club on the tour. In effect this created two pga tours – The regular tour and the world golf championships. Everyone is allowed in the lower tier events but only a select few are permitted n the big events. And of course, all based on the Sony World Rankings.

Some people feel you’re not the best player in the world, even if you’re ranked #1, until you’ve one a major. Again I’ll challenge this logic everyday of the week. If we’re to use this equally arbitrary notion on determining the legitimacy of a #1 ranking then let’s look at some of the past winners of majors and see how valid having won a major really is:

Rich Beem
Paul Lawrie
Shaun Micheel
Stuart Cink
Andy North
Michael Campbell
Bob Tway
Larry Mize

What Really Makes A Player The Best In The World?

Ok, I hope you get the idea. Some of these guys never won again and most of them only won a few tournaments in their entire career. But they all won a major. So what. Now if a guy is ranked #1 in the world (according to those self appointed masters of ranking – sony) and has won 4 tournaments in a year but no majors, that means waaaaaay more than a guy who’s finished in the top ten only 3 times but won 1 major that year. I don’t care if you’re playing in Asia, Europe or in a regular PGA tour event, a win is a win and it is NEVER  a walk in the park to win, anywhere.

In my humbly biased opinion a player who plays at a very high level, plays all over the world (which demonstrates serious mental and physical toughness), has numerous wins each year from all over the world, finishes in the top 10 more than any other player in golf: now that is a real #1 player.

In 2011 Luke Donald became and remained the #1 player in the world and did so in a way unprecedented in the history of golf. He won Player of the Year on both the European Tour AND the PGA Tour. He won BOTH money titles and the race to Dubai, the European version of the Fedex Cup. He finished in the top 10 an unbelievable 14 times in only 19 starts on the PGA Tour!  And get this, since he became a member of the European Tour he has NEVER missed a cut. Those numbers and that level of consistency are impossible to ignore.

But in the end there is one ingredient that the #1 player in the world ALWAYS has. An incredible mental game. This one quality is essential and rests in the heart of all greatness. Luke exudes a wonderful calmness and an admirable humility that is a worthy of the golf world’s respect. He is legitimately the best golfer in the world.