Insider: Why Scott deserves to be No. 1 in the world
May 21, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Adam Scott enters the week No. 1 in the world as he prepares for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
Is Adam Scott the best player in the world?
A better way to put it is to ask who has been better during the last two years? Besides, someone has to be No. 1.
Sure, Tiger Woods had more wins last year with five (albeit none in a major). Jimmy Walker leads the FedExCup standings with three wins since October (again, none in a major). But when it comes to getting to No. 1, playing big in big tournaments is what gets rewarded.
Scott certainly did that on his way to replacing Tiger Woods atop the Official World Golf Rankings earlier this week -- even if he did it while sitting on the couch.
The Aussie won last year’s Masters, was third at The Open Championship and fifth at the PGA Championship. He also closed out 2013 with a pair of wins Down Under -- weaker fields, but with the added pressure of wanting to play well in a rare appearance in his home country.
Yes, Scott is 0-for-2014 in the wins department but hasn’t been without opportunity, most notably at Bay Hill and Augusta National, where opportunities slipped away on the weekend.
In seven starts on the PGA TOUR this year, Scott has three top 10s. His worst finish was a tie for 38th at THE PLAYERS Championship. Outside of that, he has just one finish outside the top 15.
The guy he replaced also hasn’t played a tournament in more than two months, and even before being sidelined by back surgery was off to the worst start of any season of his career.
"You want to do it playing well and getting good results,” Scott said recently of getting to No. 1. “But it's just the way our system is.”
It’s also not unprecedented.
Five times a player has reached No. 1 for the first time without hitting a shot that week, and 13 times overall there has been a change atop the rankings with the new No. 1 not playing the week before. Woods was among them -- twice.
Just four years ago, Lee Westwood finished only two tournaments in a three-month stretch because of a calf injury. After the Ryder Cup, he took three weeks off and reached No. 1 while sitting at home in England.
Others have done it more directly.
Luke Donald did it in 2011 by beating then-No. 1 Westwood in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Rory McIlroy reached No. 1 the following year after holding off a final-round charge by Woods to win The Honda Classic.
However a player gets there doesn’t really matter.
Golf is unlike any other sport when it comes to occupying this debate. This isn’t LeBron vs. KD. There aren’t two teams -- or two players -- to choose from.
It’s closer to NASCAR. But even that comparison isn’t exactly accurate with far fewer guys revving the engine each weekend than teeing it up.
“From my perspective,” Scott’s caddie Steve Williams says. “Adam has or has had the game to compete week in and week out with the very best.”
He should know. Williams spent more than a decade toting the bag of the guy who is arguably the best of all time.
Added Williams: “It just shows you that consistency, particularly in big tournaments, gets you toward the top of the world rankings.”
Or in Scott’s case all the way to the top.
As it turns out, though, the reign could be short-lived.
If last year’s FedExCup champion Henrik Stenson finishes in the top 20 or so at this week’s BMW PGA Championship he could move to No. 1.
And if Matt Kuchar wins this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, he could.
So who has been the best player in the world the last two years?
Scott -- for now.
And that’s just fine.
Adam Scott on ascending to world No.1 before Crowne Plaza