The merry-go-round at the top of the world rankings shows no signs of slowing down but is musical chairs really the game we want to be playing?
We’ve all been there. You’re walking down the road, minding your own business when suddenly you’re faced with an imposter doing the exact same thing. You move to your right so they can slide on out of your life but they move to their left hoping the same thing of you. You immediately sidestep left at a speed they couldn’t possibly compete with but the springing cat opposite you is already there. ‘Lord help us will we ever get where we’re going?’ You share a courteous smile before pulling yourself out of the firing line entirely, moving aside to avoid a third awkward standoff with this most stubborn foe. But wouldn’t you know it, they’ve stepped aside too until eventually one of you makes a dart, for no other reason but to preserve society as we know it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you golf’s world rankings.
When Muhammad Ali announced himself as the King of the world after defeating Sonny Liston on February 25th, 1964, it shook up the world. When Justin Thomas dethroned Dustin Johnson to become golf’s world number one on May 13th, 2018, himself, Spieth and Rickie Fowler cracked open their first beer aboard their “party boat” and almost finished it. Gone are the days when the greats of the game occupy the top seat at the table. These days the tables are round, the seats interchangeable and the lavish banquets ensure enough juicy meats and expensive wine that even the peasants on tour don’t go without bread.
Alas, JT’s reign proved shorter than an England World Cup campaign and the great sloth Johnson crawled back up the stairs after only a brief fall. Yet no more than JT didn’t throw his Ray-Bans out of the boat, DJ didn’t exactly exude excitement when holing out his second shot on the 18that TPC Southwind to reclaim the crown. Why? Because cash is king in the modern game and as long as you’re in the world’s top-50, little changes when it comes to dollar bills.
Nobody can deny that Lee Westwood was world number one back in 2010, but was he the best player in the world having never won a Major? Who cares! Since Tiger’s demise, an obsession with winning no longer exists. In share house terminology, winning is like a cleaning rota and in the current climate, everyone will have their turn. It’s nice to be nice right?
Wrong. Our family once dread the day my sister would sit us down for a screening of her wedding video. Now we willingly turn it on in her absence. Dad’s late friend, Paid Moynihan, broke the monotony of love and marriage in the film and his scene remains an Oscar worthy highlight. Faced with the priest, Eucharist in hand, Paid stuck his tongue out for the body of Christ to be laid upon it, only for the priest to go for his palm instead.
Paid pulled his hands down to intercept but he was too late, Father Doyle returning fire to his now closed mouth, originally the intended target. Like a lizard Paid extended his tongue for the feast once more but again Padre’s target stooped lower. A back and forth ensued as the pair ducked and dived each other’s advances, the congregation waiting with bated breath for one to relent. Only neither party was forthcoming, that was, until Paid took matters into his own hands, literally, grabbing the sacred bread out of the priest’s mitts before launching it straight into his salivating mouth. There was no need to bless himself as he walked away. He’d already won.
Rather than this cute, almost communist culture continuing on tour, I long for the day that someone decides to breathe new life into what it means to be world number one. The players don’t need the title, of course they don’t. But the game needs a winner who’s an equally bad loser to inspire some rivalry before it’s too late. Can I get an Amen?