By Doug Smock
After landing Tiger Woods for its third rendition, The Greenbrier Classic has one obstacle left: Bring in the world's No. 1 player.
No, Woods is not the planet's big cheese. He's "only" No. 4, behind the British Isles trio of Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. Woods has been No. 1 for 623 weeks total, but not since Oct. 31, 2010.
So why is that? And what is this thing called the Official World Golf Ranking, and why do we care?
Following is an attempt to simplify perhaps golf's most important index. Just don't try to calculate this at home.
A completely subjective formula endorsed by the four major championships and six leading professional tours - PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour (South Africa and nearby nations) and Asian Tour. Other tours are taken into account, such as the Web.com tournament.
Finish high enough in any of the tournaments and you get world ranking points. After last week's action, there are more than 1,450 such souls.
This is computed on a rolling two-year basis. You keep the full number of points for 13 weeks, then they are reduced over the next 91 weeks by equal decrements. Divide those by your number of tournaments (minimum 40, max 52) and that's your average.
Not quite. The majors are weighted the highest, with some regular PGA Tour events counting less than one-third that value.
The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championships give 100 points for first place, 60 for second and at least 1.5 for anybody who completes the round. The winner of the Players Championship gets 80 points, while the others are decided by strength of field, with minimums varying by tour.
The strength of field is decided by a formula based on the current world ranking and year-ending tour ranking.
To provide a contrast, Woods received 56 points for winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 68 for winning the Memorial Tournament and 48 for winning the AT&T National.
Those figures dwarfed the 32 for the winners of the first two Greenbrier Classics. Not this year, though - the tour announced Tuesday that the winner gets 48 points and the top 50 places will score.
Having Woods, Webb Simpson, Scott Stricker and Phil Mickelson will do that - all told, the field has 14 of the top 50, 30 of the top 100 and 62 of the top 200 players.
Being No. 1 is prestigious and a worthy goal, but doesn't bring too many additional benefits. Other levels are critical, and help draw players to this week's Classic.
Top-50 players on certain dates get into the British Open and Masters and the U.S. Open has expanded that out to the top 60. The PGA Championship usually gives "special exemptions" to the top 100, and all 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team members must stay in the top 100. (Jeff Overton hangs precariously at No. 95.)
Also, the top 50 on July 23 and July 30 get a berth in the World Golf Championships tourney in August at Akron, Ohio - a high-powered field with no cut and money for everybody.
Remember, Woods didn't play much in 2011 - 11 events, including a withdrawal and a missed cut. Woods had his points divided by 40, enough though he didn't play that many tournaments. And Woods is tied with Donald in major championships in the last two years - zip.
In 2011, Donald pulled off the improbable feat of topping both the U.S. and Europe money lists. He won four events, including the World Golf Championships' match-play event and Europe's prestigious BMW PGA Championship.
You could argue that the four majors should receive more weight, but the system appears to be logical (and complex). It does present some week-to-week oddities, however.
You may find the loudest critics are those who have taken the least time to understand the system. They should be assured of this: If Tiger Woods keeps on winning tournaments, he will eventually retake his perch at No. 1. His march continues this week.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
World Golf Ranking
1. Luke Donald Eng 9.80
2. Rory McIlroy NIr 8.65
3. Lee Westwood Eng 8.21
4. Tiger Woods USA 7.82
5. Webb Simpson USA 6.55
6. Bubba Watson USA 6.30
7. Matt Kuchar USA 5.82
8. Jason Dufner USA 5.70
9. Justin Rose Eng 5.55
10. Hunter Mahan USA 5.36
11. Graeme McDowell NIr 5.15
12. Adam Scott Aus 5.03
13. Steve Stricker USA 4.93
14. Martin Kaymer Ger 4.82
15. Phil Mickelson USA 4.78
16. Dustin Johnson USA 4.72
17. Zach Johnson USA 4.54
18. Charl Schwartzel SAf 4.52
19. Rickie Fowler USA 4.45
20. Louis Oosthuizen SAf 4.44
21. Jason Day Aus 4.28
22. Sergio Garcia Esp 4.15
23. Keegan Bradley USA 3.86