U.S. schedule before winning the first
of two U.S. Opens in 2001.
Since 2003 Goosen has played a
handful of European events each
season, favoring the ranking points
he could acquire in PGA Tour events.
Thanks in some measure to top- 50
exemptions, Goosen stayed in the
world top 50 for 628 weeks, finally
exiting it last November. He ended
the year 53rd.
Since 1995 only 28 countries have
been represented in the year-end top 50,
just six annually: Australia, England,
Japan, South Africa, Sweden and the
U.S. For now American players still
count as the largest entry in the
majors. But set aside U.S. Open
qualifiers and PGA Championship
club pros and the percentage of viable
contenders tilts elsewhere.
Meanwhile, every Goosen-like
breakthrough translates to another
long-term exemption—and top- 50
spot—not held by a U.S. player. That
also means fewer spots in WGC
events, which provide another lode of
ranking points for anyone who can
sign four correct scorecards. Without
those guaranteed points, it generally
takes a monster year or a major
victory to break into the top 50.