Though Martin Kaymer lost to the indomitable Luke Donald, Kaymer ascended to No. 1 in the world rankings after reaching the finals in the Accenture Match Play Championship. No whining or grumbling about whether or not the 26-year-old German deserves the title. It’s hard to argue with seven wins worldwide, including one major. Kaymer won three times on the European Tour last year, as well. He put on a dominating performance in Abu Dhabi to defend his championship, besting Rory McIlroy by eight shots.
Kaymer is the 14th player to reach No. 1 in the history of the world rankings and the second German after Bernhard Langer.
It’s not lonely for Kaymer at the top, either. He’s got several European counterparts right behind. Former world no. 1 Lee Westwood dropped to No. 2. Luke Donald’s victory surged him from No. 9 in the world to No. 3. Meanwhile, current US Open champion Graeme McDowell surpassed Tiger Woods and holds the No. 4 position.
And yes, that means Tiger has dropped down to No. 5. That’s exactly what happens when you haven’t won a tournament in a year-and-a half, even if you’ve finished top-five in two majors in the past year.
So this is the new world order. It feels like just a few weeks ago I heard my European counterparts grumbling about the struggling Brits and their plight. Now it’s just the opposite. I can hear them typing away with a smug smile. You know, that’s fine. They deserve to gloat. Last time four Europeans held the top-four spots was…1992, I believe — Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros — so it’s been 20 years. Surely we’ve shoved our American supremacy in their faces for quite some time. It’s their turn now. Don’t worry, it’ll be short-lived enough…
Some examples of congratulatory yay-Europe article. First, let’s hear from my colleague, Paul Mahoney, over at Golf.com:
It was an especially sweet day for European golf. The Donald-Kaymer match was the fifth Match Play Championship final in six years not to feature an American. And with Donald’s ascension to No. 3, Europeans now occupy the top four places in the world rankings for the first time since 1992, when the Big Four were Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Jose-Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros. The Class of 2011 is an impressive roster as well: Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Donald and Graeme McDowell.
“To hear I am world No. 3 means a lot,” Donald said. “This is a purple patch for European golf.”
PGA Tour chief Tim Finchem was waiting to greet the European finalists on the first tee. He did his best to put on a brave face. “If only I had a nickel for everyone that googled ‘snood’,” Finchem whispered in reference to Kaymer’s fly-fishing scarf. He may just need every nickel and dime if top players like Kaymer, Westwood and Rory McIlroy continue to opt out of the PGA Tour.
European Tour players have now won four of the last five World Golf Championships events and the last three majors with Kaymer claiming the US PGA, Louis Oosthuizen the Open and Graeme McDowell the US Open.
Kaymer is the game’s new top dog. It was only a matter of time before the world rankings reflected what has become abundantly clear since August – that the 26-year-old son of a footballer from Dusseldorf is the best golfer on the planet.
And I’m looking forward to reading Lawrence Donegan’s prose!
(AP Photo/Matt York)