2 up, 2 down: Final Presidents Cup push; Nelly Korda eyes big prize


Golfweek takes a look at some risers and fallers on the three major golf tours based on recent play. Check out the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings for men and women. The players’ updated ranking is listed in parentheses.

PGA Tour

2 up

Louis Oosthuizen (10)

The South African is rounding into form to play for fellow South African Ernie Els in the Presidents Cup in Australia. Oosthuizen birdied the first two holes of his final round to grab the solo lead in China and closed with 69 on his way to a third-place finish at the WGC HSBC Champions. It marked his 11th top 10 in WGC events and his best finish since the Valspar Championship in March (T-2). Oosthuizen played the par-4s in 10-under par, tied for the best in the field in China.

Abraham Ancer (65)

Ancer shot a pair of 67s on the weekend to finish T-4 in China. Ancer, who grew up in Mexico and qualified for the International Team for the Presidents Cup in December for the first time, recorded his 10th career top-10 and first of the 2019-20 season. Ancer won the 2018 Australian Open and finished T-2 in the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, and could be a tough foe on familiar ground for the American side.

2 down

Phil Mickelson (188)

Mickelson played a record four tournaments during the start of the wrap-around season, but it was a continuation of his mediocre golf. Mickelson broke par in three of four rounds in China, including a closing 68, but it added up to a T-28 finish. He still hasn’t recorded a top 10 since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. Mickelson’s driver was erratic as usual. He ranks 169th in driver accuracy this season after ranking 185th of 188 last season. The real culprit has been Mickelson’s putter as his stats indicate: he’s plummeted from No. 13 in SG: Putting in 2017-18 to No. 139 last season and No. 169 so far in the 2019-20 wraparound season. Another effect of the prolonged slump: Mickelson dropped out of the top 50 in the latest OWGR for the first time since No. 27, 1993.

Branden Grace (197)

The South African is going to need a captain’s pick from his mentor, Ernie Els, to play in his fourth consecutive Presidents Cup, but if he gets one it won’t be based on recent performances. Grace finished far down the standings for the International Team – 23rd –  and his best result since the start of the 2019-20 season is a T-46 in the no-cut CJ Cup in Korea and he has missed the cut in his three other starts, most recently at this week’s inaugural Bermuda Championship (71-72).

LPGA

2 up

Nelly Korda (2)

Now with three titles on foreign soil, the younger Korda sister heads next to the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, with eyes on the biggest prize in women’s golf – $1.5 million. The 21-year-old Nelly is now two wins shy of catching up with big sister Jessica. She has two victories in 2019 along with nine top-10 finishes and $2,893,023 in career earnings.

Morgan Pressel (92)

First top 10 of the year since making a run at the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn. Ranks 34th on the money list with $565,923. The 31-year-old Pressel hasn’t been this high on the money list since 2015 when she finished 11th. There are two events left on the LPGA schedule.

2 down

­Hannah Green (53)

While it has been a wonderful breakout year for the young Aussie, it has also been an inconsistent one. Green beat only a handful of people in Taiwan, finishing in a share of 74th. In addition to her two victories (including a major), Green has four missed cuts and six finishes outside the top 50.

Jin Young Ko (1)

The LPGA’s top-ranked player withdrew from during the third round of Taiwan due to injury, raising questions heading into the CME. Ko, who already wrapped up Rolex Player of the Year Award, leads the tour in scoring, money and the Race to the CME Globe. She is not in the field in Japan.

European Tour

2 up

Rory McIlroy (1)

The new No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. An impressive performance to win the WGC–HSBC Champions in a playoff with Xander Schauffle. It’s his fourth big win of the season along with the Players Championship, Canadian Open and Tour Championship and moves McIlroy to fifth on the Race to Dubai from 33rd at the start of the week. He has a chance to end the season as European number one. McIlroy has won the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai twice, and a third win would help him finish European number one for the fourth time. McIlroy has the best stroke average on the European Tour this year, averaging 68.57 strokes per round. That might have something to do with leading the tour in total birdies, with 207 from 42 rounds, 20 better than nearest competitor Jon Rahm.

Matthias Schwab (97)

A T-4 from the Austrian in the WGC–HSBC Champions moves him to 18th on the Race to Dubai. It’s his ninth top 10 of the season. The Vanderbilt alum has excelled this year in hitting greens in regulation with a 72.15% average to rank 23rd in that category. He also has a healthy stroke average of 70.07 per round to sit 24th in that pecking order. Schwab has made a vast improvement from last season, his rookie year. In 2018, he finished 72nd on the money list with approximately $594,000. This season he’s nearly tripled that figure, with around $1.45 million. And he still has three big money tournaments to play before the season draws to a close.

2 down

Justin Rose (9)

Finished T-28 in the WGC–HSBC Champions, and still looking for his second win of 2019 following the Farmers Insurance Open ten months ago. The 2016 Olympic Champion does have five top 10s since then, including third in the U.S. Open. However, he’d have expected a bit more at this point in the season. Rose has an excellent chance this week to get his second win of the season when he tees it up as defending champion in the Turkish Airlines Open. The Englishman is looking for a three peat. He perhaps needs to hole a few more putts than he’s done of late. Rose ranks 63rd in average putts per round on the European Tour with 29.27. Pretty good, but a slight improvement would help.

Francesco Molinari (33)

It was always going to be hard for the Italian to emulate last year when he won the Open Championship, became the first European to record five points out of five in a Ryder Cup and ended the season European number one. Everything looked rosy after he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then came so close in the Masters. That Masters meltdown on the back nine, when he found water twice, might have had a big impact on his year. Since then, T-11 in the Open Championship is his best finish. One stat perhaps stands out that shows how far he is from last season’s heroics. He was 49th in greens in regulation last year with a 69.44% average. This year he’s 118th with a 66.26% average. It doesn’t look a huge difference on paper, but every slight decline at this level is important.

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