Els Inches Closer to No 2 Ranking


Tiger Woods, who will begin his quest for a third consecutive Bay Hill Invitational title when the PGA Tour continues its Florida Swing later this week, remained nearly five points ahead of No. 2 Phil Mickelson in the World Golf Ranking.
Last year Woods put to rest talk of a slump with a one-shot victory over Mickelson at Arnold Palmer's tournament in Woods' current hometown of Orlando. Although he is winless so far in 2002, Woods is coming off a second-place finish at Doral and seems to be hitting his stride entering an important stretch of golf.
Woods will be defending not only at Bay Hill, but also at The Players Championship next week and at the Masters in just over a month.
Woods and Mickelson weren't the only players to maintain their positions from last week's rankings. The rest of the top 10 held on to their spots, too.
Less than half a point behind Mickelson was No. 3 Ernie Els, the hottest player in the game with three wins worldwide in five weeks. The two-time U.S. Open champion captured the Heineken Classic in Australia in early February, the Genuity Championship in Miami last week and the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.
Rounding out the top 10 were David Duval, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, David Toms, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Chris DiMarco.
Canadian Mike Weir moved up one spot to No. 11, supplanting Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who dropped to 12th. Weir had the third-round lead at last week's Honda Classic but closed with a 75 to finish tied for 11th.
Jim Furyk stayed No. 13. Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, whose tie for seventh at Dubai was his first top-10 finish in 2002, climbed one place to No. 14. Kenny Perry, with three finishes in the top six this season, jumped two spots to No. 15.
Two-time Masters champ Bernhard Langer remained 16th in the rankings, while Bob Estes fell from 14th place to No. 17. Scott Verplank held on to 18th.
Brad Faxon vaulted eight spots to No. 19 following his tie for second place at the Honda Classic. It was his second runner-up finish of the year, third top-three showing in as many starts and fourth top-10 overall.
Paul Azinger dropped one spot to No. 20, pushing Scott McCarron out of the top 20. McCarron, who slipped to No. 23, hasn't played since losing in the final match of the WGC-Match Play Championship.
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