On the very unofficial move-the-needle rankings he moved all the way up to second.
Moving the needle is all about star quality, drawing power and Q-ratings. Its origin comes from the same concept that applies to the Richter Scale. If and when the Mother of All Earthquakes finally hits California (as so many people have predicted), the needle on the Richter Scale will move right off the page.
Arnold Palmer used to move the needle more than Jack Nicklaus even during the periods when Nicklaus was clearly a better player. In fact, rating a players ability to move the needle is a highly imprecise science.
The top five ranked players in the world right now are, in order, Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Mike Weir.
The top five move-the-needle players in the world right now are, in order, Woods, Mickelson, John Daly, Fred Couples and David Duval. I have compiled this list through my own observations and conversations with tournament directors over the years.
Daly currently ranks 55th in the world and, until last week, was the only player who could get people to buy tickets or turn on their televisions to watch golf more regularly than Woods.
Mickelson, by curling in a 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the 68th Masters has just moved past Long John. We could see this coming as recently as the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage. Woods won the tournament. Mickelson captured the hearts and minds of the huge galleries.
Duval will move the needle this year because he hasnt played in a tournament yet and the golf public wants to know what kind of game the worlds former No. 1 will bring to his resurfacing.
Michelle Wie, a 14-year-old girl, is a monster talent not yet ready to compete regularly and make cuts on the PGA Tour. But she moves the needle because we gasp at the beauty of her swing, the length of her drives and her overall golf precocity.
Then there are regional needle movers. The most notable one of those is Mike Weir anywhere in Canada. Greg Norman used to be a needle mover everywhere. Now its mostly when he plays in Australia. To a lesser extent, Jerry Kelly moves the needle at the Greater Milwaukee Open.
Will Mickelson ever take over the No. 1 spot in the world from Woods? Will he ever move the needle more than Woods? Neither will be easy. But neither is suddenly quite so far out of reach as they were one week ago.
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