Englands top trio thinking of No 1 at Wentworth


WENTWORTH, England – England’s three players in the top eight of the world ranking have their eye on No. 1 while Tiger Woods continues to nurse his injured shoulder and reputation.

Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey spoke openly of their lofty ambitions on Wednesday as they completed their preparations a day before the start of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

lee westwood paul casey ian poulter bmw
Westwood, Poulter and Casey are ranked No. 3, 6 and 8, respectively, in the world. (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson, restored to No. 2 after his win at the Masters in April, is the biggest threat to Woods’ 258-week reign atop the ranking, but Westwood, occupying No. 3 for the first time in his 16-year career, knows that if he can win this weekend he will be chasing Mickelson and Woods hard.

“For me, the No. 2 and No. 1 positions are more achievable now than they have been in the last few years,” Westwood said.

“Tiger’s performance, schedule and things like that are unpredictable at the moment. Phil is obviously a world-class player and has already won a major this year but you know his performances are very much up and down. And the world rankings are all about consistency.”

Consistency has become the watchword of Westwood’s golf over the past year in which he won Europe’s first Race to Dubai money list and in recent weeks on the PGA Tour has finished second at the Masters and led the Players Championship going into the final round.

No. 6-ranked Poulter, who moved into the top 10 for the first time after winning the Accenture World Matchplay at Dove Mountain in February, believes it is not just a two-man race to claim Woods’ crown.

“If I win the BMW this week then I will be at five and just .35 of a point off of No. 4 and closer to the goal,” he said. “I have just got to keep playing well every week to try to get as close to Tiger or Phil, even Lee.

“But it’s closer now than it ever was because of the points that Tiger has dropped over the past 12 months being away from the golf course. I can see anybody in the top 10 in the world now, if they over the next three months have a couple of wins and a couple of big finishes getting to the points that Tiger has now.

“I include myself in that bracket. There are 64 points available this week and with the U.S. Open and the British Open coming up, 100 points in each of those is huge. Knock one of them over and then you are definitely going to be climbing the board pretty quickly.”

Casey will attempt to successfully defend a title for the first time in his career at the BMW and agrees with Poulter that the queue behind Woods is growing longer and closer to him by the week.

However, he admits that the 6 million pounds ($8.5 million) worth of course changes designed by Ernie Els at Wentworth over the past 12 months could make that task even harder.

In 2009, he won playing a long running ball game but with most of the greens now protected by cavernous bunkers, a higher ball flight could be a big advantage.

“Because of the changes it’s like going back to other courses where you have won because you can’t call upon happy memories and shots that you might have used 12 months earlier,” he said.

“But this course is going to suit Ian Poulter because his short game is phenomenal, and when you do miss greens here now you have to be able to get out of bunkers and get up and down.”