Phil Mickelson can end Tiger Woods’ run at No. 1 over the last 258 weeks at The Players Championship this week.
To knock Woods off the top spot, Mickelson must win at TPC Sawgrass while Woods finishes outside the top five, according to Ian Barker, who administrates the Official World Golf Ranking.
If it happens, Mickelson would become just the 13th player to hold the top spot in the 24-year history of the rankings.
The possibility looms more strongly with Woods coming off a missed cut at Quail Hollow, where Mickelson followed up his Masters’ victory with a second-place finish to Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy, by the way, jumped back into the top 10 at No. 9, moving up four spots.
Woods has been No. 1 for 598 weeks overall in his career. The next longest run at No. 1 was Greg Norman, who held the top spot for 331 weeks.
The Official World Golf Ranking is measured over a rolling two-year period. Remarkably, Woods holds the top spot even though he's endured three spells away from the game over the last two years, two of them due to injury and the other after news of his marital infidelities broke. Basically, Woods has been out almost 15 months over this current two-year rolling period.
After the 2008 Masters, Woods had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to clear out cartilage damage and didn't return until the U.S. Open that year, which he won. That's six weeks he missed off this two-year rolling measurement period. After the U.S. Open in '08, he underwent reconstructive surgery on the same knee and didn't return until the Accenture Match Play Championship in March of '09. That amounted to another 8½ months away in this period. After his crash into his neighbor's yard on the morning of Nov. 27 of last year, Woods disappeared from the game for another 4½ months.