Padraig Harrington has slipped to 50th in this week’s world golf rankings, placing his status as a fixture in the top tier of international golf under threat. Recuperating after the aggravation of separate knee and hamstring injuries, the three-time major champion is not set to return to competitive golf until the next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, by which point he will almost certainly have slipped outside the top 50 for the first time in over a decade (where does the time go?). Having built a playing schedule and lifestyle on the certainties afforded by elite status, the Dubliner will be anxious to avoid slipping any further down the rankings. It’s a point Doug Ferguson was at pains to emphasise in his recent article on the value of golf’s golden ticket:
“Golf has a new magic number.
This one is found in the world ranking, not on a scorecard. For all the talk over the last six months about who’s No. 1, what really matters in this era of global golf is being safe within the top 50…
“It makes a huge difference,” [Justin] Leonard said. “I don’t always know what tournaments I’m going to get in. I’ve played some events I haven’t played in a while because of that. It makes scheduling a lot harder.””
Of course, Harrington’s relatively recent major victories still carry a great deal of weight when it comes to securing exemptions and invitations, but with yearly travel expenses running into the millions and some of the Tour’s most lucrative fields determined solely by world ranking, the Irishman’s continuing presence in the top 50 is less a matter of dignity than financial urgency.
[lead from Irish Golf Desk]