Skip to main content

Finally somebody might seize the No 1 ranking

Golf Talk Central
Getty Images

The tempo’s speeding up.

A game of musical chairs at the top of the world rankings sounds like it's beginning in earnest with Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in position to win this weekend.

It’s a pretty good bet we’ll have a new No. 1 come Sunday night in the Official World Golf Ranking. We’re just not sure if it’s going to be Donald or Westwood who will end Martin Kaymer’s eight-week run at the top.

If Donald wins the Heritage, he’ll be the fourth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking in the last 27 weeks. We haven’t seen that kind of turnover since the Tiger Woods era began.

If Donald wins, it won’t matter what Westwood does at the Indonesian Masters. Donald’s ascension would mark the shortest time span four different players have held the top spot since 1997. Tom Lehman, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els each held the No. 1 ranking over a 10-week period from April to June of that year.

If Westwood wins Sunday and Donald doesn’t, Westwood regains the top spot he lost to Kaymer in February.

What’s notable here is that two players are on the verge of finally seizing the top ranking. With Woods slumping all of last year, nobody seized anything. What happened is Woods gradually lost so many world ranking points, he finally slipped behind Westwood, falling to No. 2 on Oct. 31 of 2010.

If Donald or Westwood win to move into No. 1, there's no arguing they did not seize the opportunity. You just might not like the opportunity the rankings offered them.

Once somebody seizes the top spot, the next question is whether they can win with the No. 1 ranking. It’s been 75 weeks since a player has won a PGA Tour or European Tour event while holding the No. 1 spot. Yes, Westwood won the Nedbank Challenge, but it came in a 12-man field that wasn’t a European Tour or PGA Tour sanctioned event.

A final note: If Donald and Westwood both win this weekend, Kaymer falls to No. 3.