Is Woods the true No. 1 player in the world?


Tiger Woods won the AT&T National Sunday at Congressional C.C. by two shots over Bo Van Pelt. It was his PGA Tour-leading third victory of the season, all of which have come in his last seven starts. He is currently fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. But, is he the true No. 1 player at the moment? senior writers weigh in.


Tiger Woods entered the AT&T National as the fourth-ranked golfer in the world, then won the tournament and rocketed all the way up to … you got it – No. 4.

Treading water may sound like a curious byproduct of a victory, but the fact is, you can’t argue math. And the Official World Golf Ranking is all about math, with no room for thoughts and feelings and opinions mixed in.

That’s probably why we’re being asked this question right now. Forget the statistical formulas and numerical breakdowns. Is Woods the No. 1 player in the game today?


If I had a vote in some sort of world ranking-type poll, he would certainly sit atop my list right now. The reason is twofold. First, Tiger owns three wins in the past three-plus months, a claim which no other player on any major tour can make. Second, nobody else is making a serious run at that title right now. It’s not like the three players ahead of him on the OWGR – Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood – have been tearing it up. And those who have played well – Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson, to name a few – have seen success only in spurts.

So yeah, naming Tiger Woods as the “true” No. 1 player in the world is sort of a process of elimination from the competition, but it’s also a testament to his recent play. Don’t be surprised if the real world ranking – you know, the one that uses math – follows suit soon enough.


With three victories in three months, yes, Tiger Woods has reasserted himself as the top player in the world today.

But with so much history at Woods' fingertips again as his game and confidence come back, what the Official World Golf Ranking says seems inconsequential.

No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood aren’t the players Woods must see standing out in front of him.

Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead are the guys who stand in the way of what Woods wants most. Nicklaus is there with his record 18 major championship titles, Snead with his record 82 PGA Tour titles.

So now it gets fun.

With Woods practically stepping out of the way for three years, we have seen the confidence and games of a number of players grow. We have seen Donald, McIlroy and Westwood take turns at No. 1. We have seen Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler step into bigger games.

It’s as if Woods’ shadow moved out of the way so these other players could grow into their games. Now, if Woods keeps building this run, we get to see how those other growing games really measure up. We get to see if any of these guys can become what Tom Watson and Lee Trevino became for Nicklaus, formidable thorns in Nicklaus' side in his run at history.

There could be as much fun watching the emergence of the next Watson and Trevino as there is the re-emergence of Woods.


With all due respect to the world golf ranking math, not to mention the foursome of Europeans who have split time atop the world pack ever since the spot came vacant in October 2010, Tiger Woods is the world’s best player.

The ranking’s two-year rolling window may guard against unrealistic spikes and unfair free falls, but on this it seems to ignore the red-shirted elephant in the room.

Woods now has three victories in his last seven starts. If one tracks back to last November, when his body and swing finally began working in tandem, he has four wins (although the Chevron World Challenge is not an official Tour event it does receive ranking points) and seven worldwide top-10 finishes.

During that same time frame, current world No. 1 Luke Donald – who has, in all fairness, been the game’s most consistent player for some time – has two worldwide victories and seven top 10s. You do the math.Or, take it from Bo Van Pelt, who went the final 36 holes at last week’s AT&T National with Woods.

“I'd have to say (Woods),” said Van Pelt when asked who he thought the world’s best player is. “No offense to any of those other guys, but I think he's the only guy to win three tournaments on Tour this year, on three demanding golf courses, and he was leading the U.S. Open after two days. So I'd say that he’s playing the best golf in the world right now.”