The United States might be the powerhouse in world amateur golf, but the rest of the world is catching up. The World Amateur Golf Ranking bears this fact out.
The US holds down the first three places on the WAGR table, with Patrick Cantlay taking this year’s Mark H McCormack medal as the leading amateur in 2011. Compatriots Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers play numbers two and three respectively to Cantlay’s star billing. Another 22 golfers pledging allegiance to the stars and strips take up positions in the world top 50. However, signs are that the rest of the world is keen to challenge US dominance.
Who would have thought 20 years ago that a Dutchman, Daan Huizing, would occupy the number six position in the world order? Or that a Dane, Sebastian Cappelen, would hold down 16th spot. Who would have guessed that two Austrians, world number 32 Manuel Trappel and Philipp Fendt (40) would be in the top 50.
Amateurs from emerging golf nations such as Norway, Taipei, the Philippines and Hong Kong also take up spots in the world top 50. Throw in countries with long traditions in the game such as England, Scotland, Sweden, France, Japan, South Africa and Australia, and it is no wonder the men’s professional game is so cosmopolitan.
When the Official World Golf Ranking was launched in April 1986, 31 Americans took up spots in the world top 50. Such has been the growth of world golf that today only 18 US players take up spots in the top 50.
No wonder. Winners on the world amateur circuit this week come from diverse nations around the globe. Ricardo A Piiroja won the Torneo Hyundai in Peru, Juan Eduardo Cerda triumphed in the Abierto Las Brisas de Chicureo in Chile, Albright Chong took the honours in the Sabah International Junior Masters in Malaysia, while Vikram Rana won India’s Jharkhand Open.
Expect an even more cosmopolitan world top 50 in the not too distant future.
Anyone wanting proof of the cosmopolitan nature of world golf need look no further than the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. A scan down the list is like a reading a list of countries invited to a United Nations summit.
Amateur circuits in traditional golfing nations may have shut down for the festive season, but golf continues to be played in all corners of the globe. For example, this week’s list of winners in women’s amateur golf includes Singapore’s Phoebe Nicole Tan in the HSBC Youth Challenge 3rd Leg, India’s Aditis Ashok in the East India Tolly Ladies, Diana Tham from Malaysia taking the Sabah International Junior Masters, Paraguay’s Paloma Vaccaro in the Campeonato Abierto Ciudad de Montevideo, and Hilda Von Saalfeld and Silvia Perez as joint winners of the Costa Rica National Stroke Play Championship.
These events may not rate highly in the amateur pecking order now, but such is the steady globalisation of golf that who knows where they might rank in the years to come.
Eighteen nations are represented in the women’s top 50. United States amateurs have the most representation with 16, but two New Zealanders hold down the first two spots. Lydia Ko took this year’s Mark H McCormack medal as the world’s leading woman amateur, but compatriot Cecilia Cho chased her hard all season.
Two South Africans hold down the third and fourth spots. Kim Williams and Iliska Verway are world number three and four respectively. Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow is world number five, along with Leona Maguire at number seven and twin sister Lisa at number 35.
Austin Ernst leads the US contingent at number six, with Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn at number eight and England’s Charley Hull in 10th place. Six nations in the top 10 backs up the theory that golf is now truly global.
Further down the world top 50 there are golfers from such diverse nations as Germany, Korea, Spain, the Philippines, Australia, Sweden, Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Argentina and Czechoslovakia.
Proof, if any was needed, that the game is now truly global.