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New World Order: One if by Donald, two if by Westwood

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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NORTON, Mass. -- The redcoats are coming, the redcoats are coming.

Sorry, but this being the Boston area, which is steeped in three centuries of American history like few other locales, somebody needed to say it.

Driving around the area this week, a statue of some long-gone Revolutionary War hero was placed right in the middle of a nearly rural intersection, so they take this stuff seriously around here, for good reason.

Have you looked at the top of the world rankings lately? Those tricky Brits rule the roost, pretty much regardless of which ranking system you prefer.

Of course, while English Ryder Cup veterans Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are the top players on the planet by acclamation, it's quite a bit more muddled down the list, which is what tends to confuse the fan base, casual or devout.

The Sagarin ratings used by Golfweek magazine are based on a 12-month window and head-to-head play. Which is why American veteran Jim Furyk, who hasn't contended on the weekend in months, has skidded out of the top 50 in the Sagarins, but remains 25th in the world ranking, which uses a two-year yardstick to account for its placement.

But just when it seems to make sense, something seems so head-scratching, it's like the rankings have lice. Consider rising rookie star Keegan Bradley, who has two victories in his eight months on the PGA Tour and is the only Yank to win a major championship this year. He's locked in at ... 85th in the Sagarins.

That's why our monthly New World Order rankings are an amalgamation of stellar stats, fudged facts, interpolated and interpreted data, which this week was all thrown into a Boston Red Sox hat, doused with a pint of Sam Adams and tossed onto the table for proper sorting.

Frankly, given the crazy discrepancies in the two commonly cited rankings, these numbers make at least as much sense as the lists the computer systems are spitting out.

1. Luke Donald
England
OWGR: 1
Sagarin: 2
August New World Order: 3

All Donald is doing is seeking to become the first member of both the PGA and European tours to lead both money lists and win both bonus competitions, the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai. Donald is in the midst of playing an incredible, energy-sapping eight times in a 10-week span in three countries. Next week, he plays something of a home game in Chicago at the BMW Championship, near where he attended college at Northwestern. A decade ago, Donald finished his degree, blew through Q-school and has been working his way through the ranks ever since. In a season in which plenty of stars have risen and fallen precipitously -- like Bubba Watson, who has two wins and a bunch of forgettable finishes -- Donald has been a veritable Plymouth rock.

2. Lee Westwood
England
OWGR: 2
Sagarin: 3
August New World Order: 1

Westwood got dinged a slot because he's not playing at the moment. Because he isn't a U.S. tour member, he's not mixing it up in the FedEx series, where Donald is threatening to take the points title. But Westwood was right where we've gotten used to seeing him when he did play in August, finishing in the top nine at the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship. With Donald loading up on tournaments at this time of year, Westwood is laying in the weeds, recharging for the fall finish and Race to Dubai stretch. Be interesting to see how it plays out for the two Englishmen.

3. Steve Stricker
USA
OWGR: 4
Sagarin: 1
August New World Order: 2

During a season in which first-time winners and rookies have mostly stolen the stage in the States, the Wascally Wisconsin native keeps plugging along like a cartoon character, smiling and making more putts than just about anybody in cleats. At an age, 44, when most players are beginning to show cracks, Stricker has never been better, winning at least two tournaments for three consecutive years. Stricker is a former champion at this week's Deutsche Bank event, so there's plenty of possibility he'll move up this list by the time the FedEx is finished next month. He is nicknamed Mr. September, after all.

4. Dustin Johnson
USA
OWGR: 4
Sagarin: 23
August New World Order: 8

Johnson won the past two PGA Tour events trimmed to 54-holes -- at Pebble Beach in 2009 and last week at the rain-shortened Barclays. After another frustrating season in which he played in the final group at a major championship yet again and came up empty, Johnson was close to perfect at the Barclays, overpowering a short golf course with howitzer drives off the tee. If this kid ever puts it all together and figures out how to better execute finesse shots from inside 100 yards, like Stricker has, he's a future world No. 1. Johnson leads the FedEx points race, by the way.

5. Adam Scott
Australia
OWGR: 8
Sagarin: 45
August New World Order: Not ranked

There's not a player on the tour who isn't happy for Scott and his return to the top. He's one of the nicest guys in the game. His caddie? Not so much. Since he and ex-Tiger looper Steve Williams became a pair, the Odd Couple has made it work. No, really. In six starts since Williams signed on, Scotty has won $2.06 million, a pretty solid season for most guys, and he has climbed back into the world top 10 and assumed his spot as the best Aussie player in the game. The combo of Williams and the broom putter has turned around Scott's career, and for that, the game is a better place.

6. Rory McIlroy
Northern Ireland
OWGR: 6
Sagarin: 6
August New World Order: 4

McIlroy hasn't played since the PGA Championship, where he created a thousand headlines when he hurt himself hitting a moronic shot when his ball was nestled against a tree root. Too strong? This week on his website, McIlroy admitted it was probably "stupid" to attempt the shot, which has left him with lingering elbow pain. He's entered this week in the European Tour event in Switzerland, where more detail will surely be forthcoming. In case you missed it, the U.S. Open champ said in August he plans to regain his U.S. tour card in 2012, and fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell has indicated he plans to keep his PGA Tour membership next year, too. With those two boys in the fold, the tour just might have a chance of selling the TV rights fees for a decent amount after all. Hey, check it out. The OWGR, Sagarins and CBSSports.com all have McIlroy ranked sixth on their various lists, making him the 666 man. Cue the Black Sabbath music.

7. Nick Watney
USA
OWGR: 11
Sagarin: 7
August New World Order: 6

Like Donald, Watney is another bloke with a mountain of cash and chrome on the table. Now entering his prime at age 30, Watney trails Donald by a meager $21,279 on the U.S. money list, though he is second in the FedEx race and within arm's reach of the $10 million bonus. The next two weeks will be crucial -- Watney hasn't finished better than 15th at the Deutsche Bank or BMW events over the past two seasons, and his season is fast winding down. Moreover, with another win, Watney moves to the fore in the Player of the Year race, where he is one of five players stuck on two victories along with Bradley, Stricker, Mark Wilson and Bubba Watson.

8. Matt Kuchar
USA
OWGR: 7
Sagarin: 4
August New World Order: Not ranked

After a mediocre (for him) late-summer run, Kuchar was on the cusp of defending his title last week at the Barclays when his longer putter -- which he affixes to his left wrist -- let him down on the back nine. "Very uncharacteristic," he said. His play generally has been characteristically solid. The reigning PGA Tour money list champion hasn't won this year, and actually missed two cuts in succession over the summer, but has started flashing familiar form. He was T11 at the Deutsche Bank last year, which sounds about right, doesn't it? He seems far too solid to go an entire PGA Tour season without winning, but the same could be said for lots of guys, like Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk or Paul Casey.

9. Keegan Bradley
USA
OWGR: 29
Sagarin: 85
August New World Order: Not ranked

Bradley was on the driving range at TPC Boston on Tuesday as other players were competing in a pro-am festooned with former Red Sox players, including legendary outfielder Fred Lynn. Too bad he wasn't paired with the guy, because Lynn accomplished the rare feat that Bradley is chasing -- being named Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season. Seriously, what PGA Tour player has had a more impactful year? Others, like Stricker and Kuchar, have been their comprehensively consistent selves, but Bradley has two wins and a major. He might be feeling the heat. Bradley missed the cut last week at The Barclays and is playing before a huge throng of friends and family this week in New England, his stomping grounds. Plenty is on the table for this kid over the next month.

10. Charl Schwartzel
South Africa
OWGR: 12
Sagarin: 9
August New World Order: 3

Make of this what you will, but Schwartzel sat out last week's FedEx Cup series opener in New Jersey, where an earthquake and hurricane hit. Of course, other players have skipped the points events, too, including Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, who both happened to win the series title, anyway. Schwartzel has some work to do to jump back in the race, especially since as a U.S. rookie, he has not before played at the Deutsche Bank or BMW events. The reigning Masters champ didn't leave himself much wiggle room by skipping last week, having fallen to No. 28, which leaved a berth in the series finale in Atlanta looking iffy. Schwartzel has a skill set and style that translate to just about any venue, though, so there's absolutely no reason to think the South African big-game hunter can't bag some quarry over the coming month. If not some money.

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