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World Rankled

Next week's World Match Play will feature a field of the 64
top-ranked golfers in the world. Not necessarily the best 64,
just the top-ranked 64. There's a big difference.

Look at the current World Ranking. How can Nick Faldo, the
winner of six majors--four in the '90s--be ranked No. 65 and,
despite an off-year in '98, not be considered among the best
golfers in the world? And according to this system, David Duval,
who has won nine of his last 30 tournaments, is ranked No. 2.

My biggest problem with the World Ranking is that it has the
authority to exempt players into golf's premier events even
though it was created by a management group that represents
certain golfers, not by any official governing body.

My current ranking is a good example of how the system is
flawed. I began this year ranked 61st, missed two consecutive
cuts and remained ranked 61st. The following week I finished
14th in Phoenix, one shot from a top 10, and I dropped to 62nd.

Not one player I've talked to clearly understands how the system
works, and that's not right. Ours is a performance-based Tour,
and we should know what's at stake each week. Where we finish on
the money list and how we perform in specific tournaments--not a
complex points system--have always been the criteria for
exempting players into important tournaments.

Some say the money list is not fair because it favors those who
play well in the tournaments with big purses. But I believe it
takes guts to play with big money on the line, and the guys who
have the intestinal fortitude to come through under that kind of
pressure--those are the best players.

Let's eliminate this system in favor of a formula that rewards
top finishes, penalizes missed cuts and places a premium on
premier events. After all, any system that cannot recognize
David Duval as the No. 1 player in the world is fatally flawed.

Paul Azinger plays Ernie Els in the first round of the Match Play.