Second Its Not a Bad Perch

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This weekend at Augusta National Golf Club, Tiger Woods takes aim at his fifth green jacket and his 11th major championship.
 
A look at the Official World Golf Ranking says Tiger is number one by a very large margin.
 
Tiger Woods 18.09
Vijay Singh 8.72
Retief Goosen 8.28
Phil Mickelson 8.13
Ernie Els 7.07
Sergio Garcia 6.58
 
Is that a large enough margin? So much for the battle to overtake Tiger. But the battle to be second right now is a good one. A real good one.
 
Right now, Woods has his 10 majors. Vijay Singh and Ernie Els have 3 each. Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson have two.
 
Should Goosen or Mickelson win this weekend (and both shot 70 on Thursday), theyd join Singh and Els. Should Singh or Els make it four majors, wed have another good tale to tell.
 
Before you think this is a battering page against those behind Tiger, consider their consistent great play at the Masters.
 
The collection of those behind Tiger (Singh to Garcia) has a combined 24 Top 10 finishes at the Masters. Mickelson, while the owner of one green jacket to Tigers four, has nine Top 10 finishes compared to Tigers six.
 
Tiger is the best player in the world. There is no argument.
 
But theres nothing wrong with being number two in this sport. Looking up at Tiger from his immediate bumper is better than looking at him from a few car lengths back. You cant catch Tiger if youre not riding shotgun to start with. And their battle to separate themselves has become a pretty good one.
 
Vijay Singh is already set for the Hall of Fame. He was the man to overtake Tiger. He was the man to make us question whether Tiger was truly the best. At 43, Singh still has plenty more in the tank and you can bank on more majors. Vijay Singh seems more likely to finish with seven majors than he does with three.
 
Ernie Els has long been looked at as the man with the greatest chance to match Woods. His smooth-operator approach seemingly the perfect recipe for greatness. Two U.S Opens and an Open Championship seem a small total ' Tiger World or not. And you can bet hes hardly satisfied.
 
Phil Mickelson has always been the peoples choice. The man with arguably as much talent as one could be born with. His major championship totals have seemed limitless and perhaps now is the time to cash in. If he wins this weekend, he makes it three in three years and two in a row.
 
Goosen is Goosen. A complete player. A classy professional. A cool customer who ' when hes on ' makes winning look easier than any of those mentioned. Two U.S. Opens seem like just the beginning.
 
And then theres Sergio Garcia. Like Tiger and Phil, hes a showman and a showstopper when hes on his game. His ball-striking is pure. His putting has been purely perplexing. When Garcia gets it figured out ' look out.
 
In todays world of sport, we love the superstar. We love the dominant team.
 
But perhaps as much as any of that, we love the chase to beat the best. And this weekend, the chase is on.
 
Somebody has a chance to make a statement. Go back and look at the World Golf Rankings and see what a win would do for any of those ranked second ' sixth.
 
For the last 10 years weve wanted a rival for Tiger Woods. And unless something changes soon, we might not have one. This weekend we have an opportunity for someone to step up.
 
And if we never get a true rival for Tiger, it sure is fun as a golf fan to watch the battle for second best. In any other era, where Tiger Woods wasnt hanging around with an eye on dominance, we might just be talking about the greatest and deepest collection of superstars in the games history.
 
And thats not all that bad ' now is it.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann