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With one left in top 100, Canadian golfers sinking in rankings

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The Canadian Press
10/25/2010 6:55:50 PM
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At a time when several young Canadians seem to be on the rise in the golf world, the sport's official rankings tell a different story about the country's success.

Stephen Ames was the only Canadian player left inside the top 100 on the official world golf rankings released Monday -- and he's unlikely to hold on to the No. 99 spot much longer.

The Calgary golfer was forced to withdraw from last week's PGA Tour event in Las Vegas because of a sore back. If the injury keeps him from defending his title at the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic in two weeks, Ames will almost certainly slide further back in the world rankings.

At least one Canadian has been inside the top 100 since Mike Weir first cracked that barrier more than a decade ago. The lefty from Bright's Grove, Ont., is currently recovering from an elbow injury and has slipped to 129th.

The rankings are based on performance over the past two years, with a heavier emphasis on tournaments held within the last 12 months.

Graham DeLaet is the third-highest Canadian at No. 178 in the world. The native of Weyburn, Sask., just completed a solid rookie season on the PGA Tour but didn't make a big jump because his ranking also includes 2009, when he earned fewer points while playing the Canadian Tour and South Africa's Sunshine Tour.

Outside of Weir and Ames, he's the most likely Canadian player to make a significant move up the rankings in the coming year.

The Royal Canadian Golf Association -- now known as Golf Canada -- once set specific targets for how many players it wanted to see inside the top 100. The focus has since shifted to developing top-flight amateurs to fill the pipeline and has seen success with players like Matt Hill and Nick Taylor graduating from the national development program.

The next phase is expected to come soon with an announcement from the Canadian Tour, Canadian PGA and Golf Canada on a shared program designed to help turn those amateurs into pros.

"We are having some very strong results at the amateur level," said Jeff Thompson, Golf Canada's chief sport development officer. "But we are stumbling a little bit when our players are making that jump to professional. We're sort of calling it conversion strategies -- how are we going to convert those top amateurs to be in line to be successful as professionals?

"We're very close to putting something in place that way."

In the meantime, the next wave of Canadian amateurs is preparing for the biggest event of their season -- the world amateur team championships, which start Thursday in Argentina.

Cam Burke of New Hamburg, Ont., Albin Choi of Toronto and Eugene Wong of North Vancouver are representing Canada and enter the competition with high expectations -- expectations that will follow them if they eventually make the jump to the pro ranks.

"I won't be at all surprised it they're in the top 10 and that is clearly world-class performance," said Thompson. "If you look at the Ricky Fowlers and the Rory McIlroys, those were players who (played well) at the world amateur championships.

"If you're in that company, you know that you have some good tools."

Stephen Ames (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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