There are two huge events in golf over the next two weeks so the Dutch Open on the European Tour is the calm before the storm. The favourite is a former world number one and one of four English players to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Lee Westwood was at the top of the world rankings in 2010 and is now the shortest priced player for a low-ranking event in Europe in Holland this week. Nick Faldo, Luke Donald and Justin Rose have been at number one in the world since the first ranking list was published in 1986. England have the second best record after the United States.
Rose is the fourth oldest player to become the world number one. Despite losing the playoff for the BMW Championship to Keegan Bradley this Monday Rose did enough to overhaul Dustin Johnson at the top of the standings. He has now won a major, is the current Olympic champion and is statistically the best player in the world. Rose is now a leading contender for the Tour Championship and qualified to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup in France at the end of the month. This will be his fifth appearance in the matches and his current winning percentage is 63.16.
Both Westwood and Rose have had highs and lows during their career. Westwood was one of the favourites to win the Open Championship in 1998 after a number of wins around the world. He completely lost form early in the century and slipped out of the top 200 in the world rankings. Westwood has finished in the top three in all four majors without winning one. At his best he would lap the field in this week’ Dutch Open but his winning days look behind him. Westwood never looked like playing in the Ryder Cup and a pick was not on the cards.
Matt Wallace is not far behind Westwood in the betting this week. He has won three times in Europe this season including in the Made In Denmark, the last counting event for the Ryder Cup. Wallace could do no more to get a wildcard pick for the Ryder Cup but captain Thomas Bjorn went for experience over current form. Ian Poulter could not be ignored, Henrik Stenson is a good partner for Rose and Paul Casey deserved a place. The selection of Sergio Garcia over Wallace is questionable, though he has played in eight previous Ryder Cup and has won 60.81% of his matches.
The US captain, Jim Furyk, has put form over experience with his final selection of Tony Finau. Two of Furyk’s picks are rookies and the other two are Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods who have appeared in 18 Ryder Cups between then. Bjorn has to deal with five of his automatic qualifiers playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time while Justin Thomas is the only debutant for the United States who earned a place through the qualifying process. Bjorn’s four picks as a group have played in 20 Ryder Cups while the other 8 have appeared in the matches just 10 times in total.
Open champion Francesco Molinari made the team with most European and world ranking points and Rose was second in both lists. He was the leading amateur in that 1998 Open and turned professional the day after the championship. He joined the paid ranks aged 17 and missed his first 21 cuts. Over the last 21 years he has progressed through his profession and is now the best player in the world based on results. Rose could win the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup over a fortnight.
If he does win the season finale on the PGA Tour he also wins the FedEx Cup and $10 million dollar bonus. I wonder if he would swap the money for the Ryder Cup?