ow the mighty have fallen – and continue to tumble.
After a big week for the world golf rankings based on the WGC field in China, the changing of the guard continues at pace with several former world No.1s on a continued downward slide.
The injured and subsequently inactive Tiger Woods slumped out of the top 20 to No.23 just six months after his record 683rd week at the top of the heap in May.
Woods, in rehab mode from back and neck injuries, hasn’t played since the US PGA Championship in August, but has resumed hitting longer shots on the range near his Florida home.
But far more disturbing is the continued slump of England’s former top dog, Luke Donald.
The 2000 PGA Tour player of the year spent 56 weeks on top of world golf, most recently in August 2012, has plummeted to 37th on the back of just five top-25 finishes in the past season.
Worse for Donald is that his scoring average has ballooned almost two full shots per round in the past three years, taking him from the first to 128th ranking on tour.
Fellow Englishman Lee Westwood continues his battles, too. The popular veteran was tops as recently as May 2011, but has won just twice worldwide since, with his Malaysian Open win in April the only thing preventing him from being lower than his current 45th.
Interestingly, neither won a major championship at the height of their powers and could soon find the invitations to the year’s big events drying up if their rankings drop a few more points.
Australian Marc Leishman surged back to 41st after a strong finish in China, all but securing his ticket to The Masters in 2015 with the top 50 on world rankings at year end guaranteed a start.
It’s as high as the Victorian has been since his 39th ranking after the WGC Bridgestone in August and should almost certainly guarantee him at Augusta National, where he briefly led this year in the second round and was tied fourth in 2013.
Bubba Watson’s Shanghai victory moved him up to third from seventh, only a handful of points behind Australian Adam Scott, while Rory McIlroy continues as world No.1 for a 54th week.
Scott and McIlroy will go head to head in the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian in Sydney later this month in what looms as an enthralling battle.
Watson, who became just the third person behind Woods and Aussie Geoff Ogilvy to win a WGC event and a major championship in the same year, knocked Jim Furyk out of the post as top American, although the big mover from the US continues to be Rickie Fowler, who’s up into the top 10 for the first time at No.9.
Other Australians in the top 100 are Jason Day (8), John Senden (49), Matt Jones (69), Ogilvy (83) and Steve Bowditch (91).