Blog 70, 10/15/10 - Guest Blogger Paul Mahoney; Who Will Be Golf's Next No.1?

By Paul Mahoney
Typical. You wait around for ages and then, like New York taxis or London buses, two come along at once. Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer have finally caught up with Tiger Woods and one of them will overtake him to be World No.1 on October 31st. Trick or treat, Tiger?
Well, maybe Woods has another trick to unleash on his rivals on Halloween. How else so you explain how he has managed to hang on to his top spot since you know what? Maybe he’s got a voodoo doll. First Phil Mickelson gets arthritis, and then Westwood has to nurse an injured calf (that’ll teach him to dabble in cattle farming). Mickelson has had 11 chances to get to No.1 and has been unable to even stumble over the finishing line.
Westwood is due to be crowned new No.1 without even hitting a ball in competition. He had seven weeks off before the Ryder Cup, too, due to that bovine ailment. Critics have suggested this is a lame way to achieve the ultimate goal. “I’ll take it any way,” Westwood said. “I’m not allowing myself to think about it until it happens. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of and it would be great. Any time you can sit in a corner on your own and just think, I’m the best in the world at what I do, is great. There are not many people that get that accolade.”
He is set to be the UK’s first No.1 since Nick Faldo in 1994. It will be a remarkable comeback for Westwood who climbed to No.2 in the world, only to then plummet outside the top 250 and then claw his way back. A testament to his talent, ambition and strength of mind. He’ll not be chasing dollars on the PGA Tour either. “The FedExCup sits right in the middle of the kids' summer holidays and I like going on holiday with them for a couple of weeks,” he said. All credit to a decent, hard-working family man.
Westwood’s critics fail to remember that Woods disappeared not just from golf but from the face of the earth after his, ahem, sex scandal and SUV accident. And still he remained No.1. The problem is the way the world rankings are calculated. The points allocated take in a two-year period and need an advanced physics degree to work out, let alone understand. The ultimate example of how daft they are is illustrated by Woods taking time out for knee surgery after winning the US Open on one leg in June 2008. He came back to the tour in February 2009 and was still No.1. So, for eight months, while Woods was playing computer games with his feet up on the sofa in Orlando, he was also the world’s best golfer. Nonsense.
Woods is certain to lose his No.1 status but Westwood might be beaten to the summit by his Ryder Cup partner Martin Kaymer. The German is the only one of the three who will play before the end of October. If he wins at Valderrama in Spain on the last day of the month, it will be his fourth strokeplay victory in a row, a run that started with the PGA Championship at Wisconsin in August followed by the KLM Open in Holland and the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. Not forgetting his role in a victorious European Ryder Cup team in Wales. It’s been quite a ride for the 25-year-old. If he wins, he will become Germany’s second World No.1. Bernhard Langer had the honor of being the inaugural No.1 when the world rankings were first published in 1986. Kaymer will be hoping, though, that he can hang around at the top a little while longer than Langer who lasted just three weeks before Seve Ballesteros knocked him off his perch.
Kaymer is the iceman. He never seems to let his emotions get in his way whether he shooting birdies or bogeys. Never play poker with him. “For me, Lee Westwood is the No.1 player in the world right now,” Kaymer said. “If I have a chance to get there one day, I wouldn’t mind.”
Whoever gets to No.1 first, both Kaymer and Westwood will not want to emulate Tom Lehman. The Minnesotan is still dining out on stories of the time he was the best player in the world. That would be 1997. To be more precise, April 20 to April 26.
So, 281 weeks in a row and 623 in total. The record reign of Woods as World No.1 is finally broken. It’s the end of an aura. But don’t forget he has been overtaken before - by Ernie Els, David Duval and Vijay Singh -since usurping Greg Norman shortly after winning his first of 14 majors (and counting - possibly) at the 1997 Masters.
Will Woods ever get back to the top again? His first chance will come rather splendidly in the first week after having been toppled. Woods will tee it up in Shanghai, China, along with Mickelson, Westwood and Kaymer. A statement of intent from Woods with victory at the HSBC Champions event would be a typical response and a sure signal that he is not yet ready to play a supporting role on tour. Westwood said he might not play again until the end of November when Europe’s No.1 will be crowned at the Dubai World Championship. But he hinted he could be back in time for China. He might not be able to resist the delicious prospect of competing against Woods, Mickelson and Kaymer in a Shanghai showdown to decide who is the best player in the world.
The last time a person not called Tiger got to be No.1 was June 11th, 2005. His name was Vijay. Martin or Lee will become the 13th World No.1. Unlucky? Only for the one that doesn’t get there.

hoggsyI've known Paul Mahoney for, blimey must be 13 years. We worked together on a magazine called 'Fore!' in England before it was swallowed up by 'Today's Golfer' which was owned by the same publishing company. Paul, a much better writer than he is golfer (he won't mind my saying that) was the features editor and won numerous in-house writing awards. Since going freelance a few years back, he has won a load more contributing to 'GOLF' magazine in the US, 'Golf World' and 'Golf Monthly' in the UK, '', '', the 'London Independent', 'SPORT' magazine, and 'Esquire'. He has been covering golf around the world since the 1993 British Open, and says his claim to infamy is nearly killing Arnold Palmer with a thinned wedge when playing with the King at Bay Hill.
Follow him on Twitter -, or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Paul is BellinghamGolfer's first guest blogger.

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