Westwood One


Perhaps I spoke a little too soon when I blogged yesterday that a No.1 world ranking for Lee Westwood was unlikely to happen as soon as Monday. The Englishman trailed by 10 shots after two rounds of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but made up ground on Saturday at Carnoustie where he fired a 6-under 66 to jump from T-32 to T-5 and now sits only five off the lead held by European Tour rookie John Parry.

But even more important is Westwood is only three shots away from a tie for second, which is where he needs to finish in order to overthrow Tiger Woods from the throne he’s held for 278 consecutive weeks.

Westwood, who’s playing competitively for the first time since he withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in early August, just took control of the No. 2 position on Monday. Former No. 2 Phil Mickelson had 12 chances to become the new No. 1 this summer but instead moved backwards, relinquishing his position to Westwood after holding the honor for the last 277 weeks.

If the Worksop man is able to become the best player in the world according to the Official World Golf Ranking it is likely he may not be able to hold onto it for very long.

Westwood announced after the Ryder Cup that he would not be taking up membership on the PGA Tour for 2011, instead opting to spend more time with his family in Europe and only playing in America for the majors, World Golf Championships events, and a few tournaments here or there in preparation for those top tournaments.

Since OWGR points are awarded based on strength of field, and traditionally the European Tour’s fields are weaker than the PGA Tour’s, even top finishes in Europe could not be enough for him to remain in control of No. 1. However, it is interesting to note that this week’s field in Scotland is very strong, which is the reason Westwood has the opportunity to knock Tiger from his perch so soon.

Four of the top-10 players in the world are in attendance as well as nine of the members of the victorious Ryder Cup team. Thus, the combined strength of the Euros has given one of their own a chance again to stake claim over an American this week.

Westwood has already taken down Tiger once over the last seven days, in an impressive 6-and-5 victory in Sunday foursomes with Luke Donald, Tiger’s worst loss of his Ryder Cup career.

Tomorrow he has a chance to make it sting even more – and prolong the European revelry, again on a world stage.