The Changing Of The Guard

by Golfer on

The dust has just settled after Rory McIlroy’s record-breaking performance in the US Open at Congressional’s Blue Course, and one might wonder what implications this and other recent results might have on the professional game.

Rory McIlroy

The first obvious change in the game has been the shift in power from the United States to the rest of the world – something that has been happening gradually over the past few years, but now seems complete. Besides the Ryder Cup results in recent times, one look at the European, Asian, African and Australian stars that are making their mark on the world stage would suggest that the Official World Rankings are going to take on a very new look, and there will probably be a death of American names at the business end of the list.

Variations In The World Standings

Before the US Open, there were only 4 Americans, Steve Striker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson in the Top 10. Rory McIlroy was ranked at number 8, right behind his countryman Graham McDowell. It was surprising enough that 3 Europeans occupied the top 3 places, but for 2 Northern Irishmen to be in the Top 10 would have been unheard of a few years ago.

Just as surprising has been the run of form shown by the International Sports Management group headed by British-based Chubby Chandler. ISM currently manages the affairs of no less than 3 of the 4 reigning major champions. IMG, previously the powerhouse that effectively controlled the best players in the world, have not only lost considerable ground, they have said farewell to their most famous client, Tiger Woods, who seems to be sliding down the world rankings. Woods occupied the number 1 spot for 5 years until the end of last season, and is now in 16th place.

The US Open, certainly the post-cut field, merely endorsed what so many observers have said for so long – the Asian players are proving that they are a serious force to be reckoned with, and in the not too distant future we will see the likes of Japan’s 20 year old Ryo Ishikawa joined by a host of other players from the East.

Local Is Lekker

Interestingly enough, the Southern Hemisphere has never been lacking for talent, and besides the 2 South Africans, Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and US Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, Australian Jason Day has fast become a major contender, and in the last 3 of golf’s ‘Big Four’ events he has finished in the Top 10, performances that included 2 second place finishes.

The Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, which is appropriately known as “Africa’s Major”, has shown during its 30 years that the best players in the world are becoming younger. In the past having a ‘twenty-something’ player in the field was a rarity, but these ‘young guns’ are now taking over. It will be some time before the field for the 2011 Nedbank Golf Challenge will be announced, and there is a lot of golf to be played before the season’s final results and the world rankings will be finalised. Unless there is going to be a group of fresh-faced youngsters playing for the richest purse on the African continent, the “oldies” are going to have to raise their games.

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