T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
My top 5 golfers in the world
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Monday, March 10, 2014 | 1:05 p.m.
Moments after his victory, Reed's comments in an interview with Golf Channel NBC's Steve Sands sent Twitter abuzz.
Reed told Sands he was a "top-5 player in the world" and when Sands asked him to explain, Reed offered this:
"I've worked so hard. I've won a lot in my junior career. I did great in my amateur career. I went 6-0 in match play in NCAAs. We won NCAAs two years in a row. I got third individually one year at NCAAs. Now, I have three wins on the PGA Tour. I just don't see a lot of guys who've done that, besides Tiger and the other legends of the game. I believe in myself. I feel like I'm one of the top 5 players in the world. I feel like I've proven myself."
Clearly Reed isn't running low on confidence. While the interview rubbed a lot of people the wrong way -- he was called everything from cocky to arrogant on social media -- he may not have been as far out there as you might think.
For the record, Reed's triumph on Sunday moved him to No. 20 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking, up 24 spots from No. 44 a week earlier.
Here is the current top 5:
1. Tiger Woods
2. Adam Scott
3. Henrik Stenson
4. Jason Day
5. Phil Mickelson
Based on the stats, Reed isn't a top-5 player just yet. But, he's certainly trending in that direction.
You can click here for an explanation of how World Ranking points are accumulated. Long story short, points are awarded over a two-year period. That would explain why -- even after a dismal 2013 season -- McIlroy spent much of last year in the top 5 (he's No. 6 now).
Sunday's victory was Reed's third in the last 14 months. He's 23 years old. Only four other players in history have won on the PGA Tour at least three times prior to their 24th birthday: Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
Of that foursome, Woods and McIlroy have commanded the No. 1 spot in the World Ranking. All four have been No. 2 in the World Ranking.
Is it a little cavalier of Reed to compare himself to those guys this early in his career?
Maybe for some people's taste (my own included), but isn't having belief in your abilities a major factor when it comes to your successes?
Sure, Reed may have talked too much in that interview, but who can blame him? This win was against an incredibly talented field. It was the most significant of his three victories to date and made him the youngest player to win a World Golf Championships event. He was jacked up and had hardly taken a breath before the interview. It was raw, honest emotion.
If you're interested in a top 5 in the world over the last 12 months -- just from an eyeball test -- here are the five I would offer up, along with the reasons why (and sorry, Mr. Reed, but you're not there just yet):
1. Adam Scott: Won both the Masters and Barclays in 2013 and then, on his victory tour in his home country of Australia last November, Scott also won the Australian PGA Championship and Talisker Masters. He teamed up with Jason Day to win the World Cup in December too. Scott also tied for third in the Open Championship and tied for fifth in the PGA Championship. Current Official World Ranking: 2.
2. Henrik Stenson: Forget that shank the Swede hit at Doral last Thursday. In 2013, he won twice on the PGA Tour and both were FedExCup Playoffs events -- the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Tour Championship. That locked up the overall FedExCup title for Stenson. He also won the European Tour's equivalent -- the Race to Dubai -- becoming the first player to win both, and to do so in the same season. Incredibly, not only did Stenson win both those season-long crowns, but he also won the final event of both (Tour Championship on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour Championship on the European Tour). He's hands down No. 1. Current Official World Ranking: 3.
3. Tiger Woods: So he hasn't played great this season, but over the last 12 months nobody has more wins on the PGA Tour. Woods won five times in 2013, including two World Golf Championships events and the Players Championship. Current Official World Ranking: 1.
4. Zach Johnson: Arguably the best game-manager there is on the PGA Tour, Johnson plays to his strengths -- an impeccable short game -- and the results bare that out. In the last 12 months, Johnson has 11 top-10 finishes, including wins at the BMW Championship and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He lost a playoff in the John Deere Classic and also won the unofficial World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods. Remember that hole-out on the 72nd hole he had at the World Challenge to force the playoff with Woods that Johnson would eventually win? Current Official World Ranking: 9.
5. Jimmy Walker: During the 2013 season, Walker had a second-place and a third-place finish. In the 2013-14 season, thus far, no one has been better. Walker has had three victories since the new season began last October and has finished in the top 25 in all but two of his 11 starts. Current Official World Ranking: 24.
For me, Reed has been outstanding. However, before he starts mentioning himself among the top 5 players in the world, I'd like to see him play in at least one major. Reed will make his major debut next month at the Masters... in Augusta, Ga., where he won those two NCAA titles at Augusta State.
But he already told you that.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
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