Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lee Westwood World Number One

Earlier this week Lee Westwood overtook Tiger Woods as the number one male golfer in the world. It is hard to believe that Westwood beat Mickelson to the top spot. Beginning this summer the watch was on for Lefty to take over the top spot but it just never happened.

Granted the World Rankings are not always the most accurate Barometer of the best player in the world however, it does require some attention. Just like College Footballs BCS Rankings, the World Golf Rankings are based on mathematical calculations that can be flawed.

I wonder if Westwood feels like the best player on the planet. I wonder if he woke up the day following taking the top spot and felt different. Do you think he will practice or prepare any harder? Do you think it will add pressure to win a major which he is yet to do? My wife and I went to the US Open a few years ago at Oakmont. I remember commenting to her that it is a rare opportunity to watch a person that is number one in the world in their career at work. That is the great thing about Professional Golf. You can watch these players’ men and women at work. It is one of the few professions whereby you can watch the best in the business in their “office”.

That raises an interesting question, is he the first player to become number one in the world rankings without winning a major championship? The previous number one’s all one majors; Woods, Faldo, Singh, Norman, Duval, Price, Els. As far as I know he is. Not that winning a major is the ultimate barometer of a player’s ability.  However, it is a good measure and he certainly had his chances the past two years.

Many of the top players in the world are playing this week at the HSBC Championship in Shanghai. Westwood will face Woods, Mickelson, Kaymer and Els. He will get a good feel for what it is like to play under the pressure of being number one. If his start, a six under sixty six is any representation then he will do just fine with that title. However, one great week does not a number one player make. In fact, if any of the top four players in the world wins they will overtake Westwood for the top spot. That would make Westwood’s rein a very short one.

To put it into some perspective let’s take a look at some prior number one performances. Greg Norman spent 281 weeks as the number one player in the world. Tiger Woods spent 281 weeks atop the list in prior to losing the ranking to Westwood. In total Woods has spent 623 weeks in the top spot. Or, pretty much his entire career. Knowing Woods this will only fuel his desire more. I would not be surprised to see him win one of the last three events he is playing in this year.

How long do you think Westwood will stay on top of the world rankings? Do you think he deserves to be number one in the world since he has never won a major championship?

Source; Andrew Redington/Getty Images

1 comment:

  1. What drives a golfer's competitiveness? Is it to be his/her personal best? To be the highest money winner? To be #1 in the world? I think the answers to many of the questions you posed have to do with what drives the competitive desire in professional players. If being #1 in the world fuels the competition, then do you think we will see a stronger fight in the field in the coming weeks and months?