The Deutsche Bank Championship is already an important PGA Tour event as the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. But there is even more on the line this Labor Day when the world’s best golfers tee off at TPC Boston.
There’s a legitimate three-man race for golf’s No. 1 ranking, which comes to a head this weekend in Norton, Mass.
Either Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy could emerge from the Deutsche Bank Championship as the No. 1 golfer in the world, which only adds to an already intriguing and pivotal weekend on the PGA Tour. Below are cases for and against each golfer being ranked No. 1.
For: Day has won three of his last four events, including his first major at the PGA Championship. And he isn’t just winning — he’s dominating. Day won the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs at The Barclays by six shots. His performance at the PGA Championship can be summed up in one word — historic. He was the first to win a major at 20 under.
Against: Day might be the best golfer in the world recently, but the Official World Golf Ranking looks at more than that. The rankings are based on a two year “rolling” period, which works against Day. The first half of this season belonged to Spieth, and 2014 was the year of McIlroy. But Day’s recent streak of success has helped him gain considerable ground.
For: Before the golf world turned its attention to Day, it was obsessed with Spieth. He won the first two majors of the year — the Masters and U.S. Open. He had a chance to win the Grand Slam and the “American Slam,” but he came up just short in the British Open and PGA Championship. He was awarded a nice consolation prize at the PGA Championship, though, when he took over the No. 1 ranking.
Against: Unfortunately for Spieth, his stay at the top was short lived. He failed to make the cut at The Barclays, which meant McIlroy — who wasn’t even playing in the event — took back his No. 1 spot. When you are on top like Spieth was, you can’t afford to have a performance like he did at The Barclays.
For: The rankings are a marathon, not a sprint. That works in favor of McIlroy, who hasn’t won on tour since the Wells Fargo Championship in May. McIlroy suffered a nasty injury after the U.S. Open, which limited him significantly. But he had an incredible run toward the end of the 2014 season, which put him on top of the golf world. He won three tournaments in a row, including two majors — the British Open and PGA Championship.
Against: McIlroy has won two PGA Tour events this season, none of which have come since May. He missed significant time due to an injury suffered over Fourth of July weekend. He didn’t play in the British Open, and the only time he played since his injury — at the PGA Championship — he came in 17th.
All three players could emerge from the Deutsche Bank Championship with more than a trophy, setting this weekend up as one of the most important in recent memory for golf.
Thumbnail photo via Thomas J. Russo/USA TODAY Sports Images
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