Who's the best pro golfer in the world in the last 5 years?
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Who’s the best pro golfer in the world in the last 5 years?


As the 2014 portion of the PGA Tour's first wraparound season begins this week in Hawaii, it's worth a look back at the last half-decade to see just how the names atop the game have rotated in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Who's been the best golfer from 2009-13? What players have been the most consistent worldwide in that time frame?

The methodology for this analysis was simple: Pull the year-end Official World Golf Ranking for each of the last five years, 2009-13, and see which players have earned the most world-ranking points.

Instead of averaging out points by event, the output which determines the true Official World Golf Ranking, a simple sum tallied how players performed in every event they played. Looking at 2013, that means Henrik Stenson earned more points than world No. 1 Tiger Woods, primarily because Stenson played much more than Woods. However, by solely adding together points accumulated in that 5-year period, we can see how often a player finishes well, particularly in events -- like majors and World Golf Championships -- that offer higher amounts of world-ranking points. By not discounting points over time, like the world-ranking formula does, long-term performance is valued much more than current form.

First, let's look at the game's most consistent players over the last 5 years. A total of 72 players have been ranked in the OWGR year-end top 200 in all five years. Players you'd expect are on that list, like Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, but there are also players you might not expect, like Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Pat Perez and Danny Willett.

Ranking the top 50 in the world over the last five years by total points earned over that stretch, just seven players did not finish in the OWGR year-end top 200 from 2009-13: Henrik Stenson, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Y.E. Yang, Thomas Bjorn, Alvaro Quiros and Robert Allenby. Just one player, Bradley, wasn't in the top 200 for at least four years.

It took 502.93 points to qualify for the top 50 using our simple rubric, with Robert Allenby holding the No. 50 spot by a little less than 5 points over Tim Clark.

Of the 73 players to finish in the year-end top 200 each of the last five years, Aphibarnrat comes in ranked worst on the list, ranked 127th overall for the half-decade period. In fact, 30 players managed to end each of the last 5 years in the top 200 of the OWGR but did not crack the top 50 in terms of total points earned in that period.

Player Name Yrs in T200 Total Pts Earned
Tim Clark 5 497.99
Simon Dyson 5 487.63
Anders Hansen 5 486.6
Jamie Donaldson 5 476.61
Hiroyuki Fujita 5 447.64
Thongchai Jaidee 5 440.96
Rory Sabbatini 5 440.63
Nicolas Colsaerts 5 433.43
Charles Howell-III 5 419.83
Yuta Ikeda 5 417.54
Charley Hoffman 5 410.61
Fredrik Jacobson 5 400.23
Jeff Overton 5 391.38
Alexander Noren 5 389.48
Marc Leishman 5 389.09
Vijay Singh 5 383.33
Brian Davis 5 368.38
Bae Sang-moon 5 358.83
Raphael Jacquelin 5 344.59
Koumei Oda 5 343.81
Thomas Aiken 5 342.94
Greg Chalmers 5 339.05
Shane Lowry 5 330.55
Gregory Bourdy 5 317.74
Danny Willett 5 308.45
Richie Ramsay 5 305.55
Shingo Katayama 5 300.73
Brendan Jones 5 289.78
Pat Perez 5 276.21
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 5 260.62

It's not hard to figure out who's No. 1 using this methodology, however. Despite a terrible 2010 and an injury-filled 2011, Tiger Woods' 2009, '12 and '13 seasons were astounding in terms of earning world-ranking points. Woods, who earned 1708.91 points from 2009-13, is 210 points better than No. 2 Luke Donald. Donald is almost 92 points clear of No. 3 Phil Mickelson. Lee Westwood is a close fourth, just about 8 points behind Mickelson. Then it's a drop to fifth-place Steve Stricker -- yes, part-time Steve Stricker -- with 1174 points.

Here's a look at the full top 50.

Player Name Yrs in T200 Total Pts Earned
Tiger Woods 5 1708.91
Luke Donald 5 1498.8
Phil Mickelson 5 1406.98
Lee Westwood 5 1399.02
Steve Stricker 5 1174.36
Justin Rose 5 1155.22
Matt Kuchar 5 1150.38
Martin Kaymer 5 1105.76
Adam Scott 5 1102.17
Graeme McDowell 5 1085.66
Rory McIlroy 5 1069.17
Ian Poulter 5 1047.43
Dustin Johnson 5 1019.33
Charl Schwartzel 5 999.3
Jim Furyk 5 993.92
Zach Johnson 5 981.47
Ernie Els 5 965.3
Hunter Mahan 5 932.79
Nick Watney 5 927.1
Louis Oosthuizen 5 864.08
Brandt Snedeker 5 840.68
Bubba Watson 5 836.79
Henrik Stenson 4 836.29
Jason Dufner 5 830.33
Sergio Garcia 5 819.87
Paul Casey 5 791.17
Jason Day 5 772.08
Webb Simpson 4 753.31
Francesco Molinari 5 747.67
Raphael Jacquelin 5 699.75
Bill Haas 5 696.31
Bo Van Pelt 5 664.69
Peter Hanson 5 661.18
Miguel A Jimenez 5 635.45
Keegan Bradley 3 630.08
Ryan Moore 5 610.02
Rickie Fowler 4 595.11
K.J. Choi 5 592.62
Padraig Harrington 5 585.74
Geoff Ogilvy 5 570.09
Ryo Ishikawa 5 551.15
Martin Laird 5 531.93
Y.E. Yang 4 530.46
David Toms 5 528.32
Thomas Bjorn 4 519.79
Ross Fisher 5 518.04
John Senden 5 512.58
Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 5 505.33
Alvaro Quiros 4 505.04
Robert Allenby 4 502.93


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About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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