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What the World Golf Rankings could learn from the BCS

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Reggie BushIt looks like college football's BCS is headed once again towards controversy as three undefeated heavyweights fight for two spots in the championship game January 4th. And yet again, the media is calling for the computer system which tallies up these scores to be axed. How dare a computer, who doesn't even have ESPN Gameplan know which team is the real deal? Then again, why should writers, who may have a bias of their own, be called on for the final say, however muddled it may be?

But when Vijay Singh took over Tiger's post as the world's #1 golfer, there was no outrage, nor was there a protest or backlash. It was widely accepted in media outlets everywhere Tiger had finally lost his throne, if only for a short time. If anything, we asked, "Gee, what took the computer so long to knock him off? (This actually confirms the golf computer has its own brain. Even the computer knows nobody wants to see Vijay or Ernie #1. Even the computer held off until borderline ridiculousness before making the switch)". Or we pondered, "What's wrong with Tiger?"

Where were the pollsters calling for an "Injustice on the links!"? By Monday morning, Tiger's fall was a done deal and sports fans moved on, back to the gridiron.

There's one simple difference between the BCS and World Golf Rankings computer, and it isn't one has a built-in DVD burner. One relies on opinion and statistics, while the other relies on nothing but numbers and formulas.

Tiger WoodsSo it must be the press that turns an otherwise pure, untarnished college sport into a cesspool of furrow-browed Trev Alberts' and choppy-speaking Lee Corso's. They ignite the mess every Saturday night when they announce their picks, then spend all week leading up to noon the following Saturday trying to sort it out. We clearly don't need them if golf (and tennis, and who knows, maybe even bowling) follow a system that appears to be flawless, or at the very least makes sense.

Well, perhaps that's the PGA system's flaw. It gives us no reason to throw half-eaten chicken wings at each other or cuss out the TV like you just caught it downstairs with your daughter.

Instead, we don't give it a second glimpse. Like when Old Navy asks for your zip code when you buy jeans or when the waiter at Red Lobster tells you they're out of crab. You accept it, despite whether you know why and it never crosses your mind again.

Let's change that. Golf needs a more controversial system. A system where a sound bite comes from a baffled player weekly along the lines of: "Duval's ahead of me? My caddy has as many wins as Duval in the past three years!" Or how about, "The only reason Vijay is ahead of me isn't because he's a better golfer, he's just more animated." Tell me that wouldn't put golf in the spotlight.

Here's an idea: to counter the Coaches Poll in football, let any player with a PGA Tour card's coach have a vote too. Harmon, Pelz, Leadbetter, Smith. . .they decide who really is the best. After all, coach knows best.

But football is different from golf (aside from the physique of the punter), right? Football has different conferences, making it impossible to judge whether the Big Ten or ACC is a better conference. You can only make assumptions based on inter-conference games.

But what about the different tours? Euro Tour, Aussie Tour, Asian Tour. . .they're all played with international fields every week. Who is to say the point system is fitting week-in, week-out?

SergioAnd what about schedule strength vs. field strength? Can you really tell how hot the field is on a good day? Who is stronger, a slumping Mike Weir (No. 6) or a Brett Quigley (No. 157) fresh off a hot finish, ready to vault into a couple top tens? You really can't assign that a decimal point, can you?

Or maybe, just maybe, golf fans are a bottle of Grey Goose in a cellar full of Smirnoff. We're above all this petty bickering. Do we fire up the grill and drink Highlife before the final round of the Masters? No, our butlers bring us fresh fruit and a toasted croissant, then get on their knees and shine our loafers.

Rather than quarrel about the system, we accept it for what it's worth, and whoever hoists the trophy on Sunday evening is at that point, and that point only, the best golfer in a field of the world's best. Tiger, Vijay and Phil took the week off? Who cares, the winner still beat 100 other players good enough to play golf for a living. You can't dispute that in a computer, or a poll. Besides, we all know right now Sergio is tops in the land, right?

World Golf Rankings vs. BCS: the skinny

World Golf Rankings

• Calculated over two years, with weight on the previous 13 weeks.
• Points awarded for tournament finishes (50 for winning a major, down to three for any Nationwide or Asian Tour event.
• Points can be awarded even if you don't win a tournament. In a major, 2nd place gets 30 points, 20 for 3rd 15 for 4th, down to .75 for anyone who plays all four rounds.

The World Golf Rankings are ongoing. They change each week and are not added up at the end of the year. The PGA Tour Player of the Year is voted on by the players at the completion of each season.

Bowl Championship Series

• Factors in the team's record and schedule in current year only.
• The BCS has three equal parts. The AP, Coaches Poll, and a collection of six computer systems which factor in schedule strength, quality wins, even which games are on the road or at home.
• The AP and Coaches pollsters award points for each place 1-25. If each poll gives a team one point, they would be 25th. If each gave them 25, they would be first.

At the end of the year, the two highest teams in the BCS rankings play in a national title game. The winner of the game is named the BCS National champion and Coaches Poll champion. The AP writers still vote on their champion.

Brandon TuckerBrandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.


 
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