Assuming the obvious, that Tiger Woods is firmly entrenched as the world's number one golfer, who is second best? Who deserves the title as most likely to challenge El Tigre when it matters, in a big tournament? The majors, the WGC events and the handful of other contests with packed fields and high drama.
After Sunday's PGA Championship victory and especially being his second consecutive major it would be easy to proclaim Padraig Harrington as number two in the world, a spot perennially occupied by Phil Mickelson. You'd be wrong. As of week 32, ending 08/10/2008 Phil has compiled 9.87 Official World Golf Ranking points compared to Padraig's 7.85. At the beginning of 2008, week 1, Phil held his customary #2 position with 8.555 points versus Padraig's 5.472, which at the time was good enough for 6th place in the world standings. So, despite his two major victories Harrington has only climbed to #3. Of course rankings aren't based on major performance alone, or the current year by itself. Keep in mind though that 3 of the last 6 major trophies are in Padraig's living room.
Digging a little deeper we'll see that this year Harrington has played in 12 events with 2 wins, (both majors), 1 3rd place, 6 top tens, and 9 top 25s. Mickelson has played in 17 events with 2 wins, 1 2nd, 6 top tens, and 16 top 25s. Mickelson has amassed 18,241 Fedex Cup points and Harrington 15,555. The Fedex Cup point differential is due to the additional 5 events for Phil. For 2007 and 2008 Phil has 5 victories to Padraig's 3. The question is would you trade 3 major wins for 5 regular tour wins? I know what my answer would be. On the heels of his PGA Championship win Harrington leads the European Tour Order of Merit standings. Phil obviously isn't on the radar in Europe.
I would submit to you that the #2 player in the world is Harrington. I believe the rankings are too weighted toward past performance and are without enough emphasis on major tournaments and quality fields. 3 of the last 6 majors over two years is good enough for me. How about you?