IN­SIDE THE ROPES

Ups and downs on the World Rank­ing.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents -

Mat­suyama, No 6 in the world, fin­ished 2016 as the only top male pro­fes­sional to win five times, in­clud­ing Tiger’s Hero World Chal­lenge in De­cem­ber.

The 24-year-old Ja­panese star, long con­sid­ered a great ball-striker who has strug­gled at times with his short game, cap­tured four of those vic­to­ries in his last five starts of the year, when he was a com­bined 89-un­der-par in 20 rounds, with 17 con­sec­u­tive rounds in the 60s. He won the HSBC Cham­pi­ons in China, two tour­na­ments in Ja­pan, and the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open last Fe­bru­ary.

Mat­suyama was just one of an ex­cit­ing group of young in­ter­na­tional play­ers to make their mark on the big stage in 2016. Oth­ers in­cluded Spain’s Rafa Cabr­era Bello, Eng­land’s Danny Wil­lett and Tyrrell Hat­ton, and Bel­gium’s Thomas Pi­eters. And a more vet­eran cam­paigner, 34-year-old Swede Alex Noren, made a heady climb into the top 10 of the World Rank­ing with four Euro­pean Tour vic­to­ries in the sec­ond half of the year, thus dou­bling what he had achieved in his nine pre­vi­ous years.

Ev­i­dence of the global spread of the game can be seen among the top 20 play­ers on the World Rank­ing at the end of 2016.They came from nine dif­fer­ent coun­tries – eight from the United States, three Eng­land, two each from Aus­tralia and Swe­den, and one from South Africa, Ja­pan, Spain, Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land.

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