Ranking the Worst Men's Golfers to Earn the No. 1 World Ranking
The Official World Golf Rankings have been in existence since 1986, and in a little over a quarter-century, there have been 16 male golfers to rise to the coveted No. 1 ranking.
While some of these guys—like Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo—have been truly worthy of being numero uno, others have been good, but not great PGA Tour pros.
Let's take a look at the five worst golfers to earn the No. 1 ranking.
5) Ian Woosnam
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Nicknamed "Woosie," Ian Woosnam is a Welshman known for his solid career on the European Tour in the late eighties. His signature win came at the 1991 Masters, where he won the only major championship of his career, by beating José María Olazábal by one stroke.
Altogether, Woosnam has 29 wins on the European Tour, though just two came on the PGA Tour.
Woosnam held the spot for a little under a year after he won the '91 Masters, but played rather uninspired golf at that year's remaining majors, finishing out of the top 40 in both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
After losing world No. 1 to Fred Couples the following year, Woosnam missed the cut in eight of his next 28 majors, and has failed to finish any better than a T3 at the 2001 Open Championship.
There's no doubt that Ian Woosnam is a talented golfer who deserves every award he has received, though there have been far better No. 1's in the world.
4) Martin Kaymer
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Martin Kaymer spent only eight weeks as a world No. 1, with that time coming directly after his second place finish at the 2011 WGC-Accenture Match Play.
Since turning pro in 2005, Kaymer has put together a solid, but not an otherworldly career, winning 10 European Tour tournaments and the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He also won the Race to Dubai and the European Tour's Golfer of the Year award that year, but his reluctance to play on the PGA Tour full-time may have hurt his performance in golf's majors.
In the time since winning the 2010 PGA, Kaymer has missed the cut in four of eight major championships, failing to make weekend play in the last two majors he's played.
Kaymer currently sits at 32nd in the world, and is likely hoping that a full-time move to the PGA Tour in 2013 will cure his ills.
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It's likely that Lee Westwood's inclusion on this list will strike a chord with many ardent golf fans, but the fact remains that in comparison to many other former No. 1's, the Englishman's resume just doesn't stack up.
Let's start with the fact that Westwood hasn't won any major championships. His best year was 2010, when he notched a T2 at both the Masters and Open Championship, and he did finish in the top-ten at this year's Masters and U.S. Open, but other than Luke Donald, Westwood is the only world No. 1 to have never won a major.
In terms of total time spent as a world No. 1, Westwood again falls in the bottom-tier of his peers, as he held onto the spot for 22 weeks in total, most of them coming in the 2010 offseason.
Of the 16 world No. 1's, multi-time major winners Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer have held onto the ranking for fewer weeks than Lee, which tells us that sometimes, getting the top spot is a matter being in the right place at the right time.
There's no denying that Westwood has had a splendid career on the European Tour and a consistent showing in major championships, but these are not the attributes of a world No. 1.
2) David Duval
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David Duval has quite possibly had the largest fall from grace of any professional golfer this side of John Daly. Unlike Daly, though, Duval hasn't won a single tournament since his early days of dominance on the PGA Tour.
In the late nineties, there was a time when David Duval was golf's hottest asset, and he battled with Tiger Woods for the world No. 1 ranking throughout most of the 1999 season.
Officially, Duval has won 13 times on the PGA Tour, with his signature victory coming at the 2001 Open Championship. It's worth noting that the lanky Floridian did notch a whopping ten top-ten finishes in 16 majors between 1998 and 2001, but his game tragically fell off a cliff shortly thereafter.
Whether it's social anxiety, back issues or even vertigo, there have been many factors attributed to Duval's decline, and while it is extremely sad to see, the fact remains that he doesn't quite stack up to the rest of the world No. 1's.
With only 15 weeks of the distinction, Duval experienced among the shortest trips at the top spot, and his mid-career journey to Q-School in 2011 makes him the only former No. 1 to hold that dubious distinction.
1) Tom Lehman
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On the whole, Tom Lehman has had a career that any professional golfer would dream of. He is the only pro to have ever won the Player of the Year award on the Nationwide, PGA and Champions Tours.
Unfortunately, naming him the worst No. 1 of all-time was rather easy, as he held the spot for just one week in April 1997, after winning the Open Championship in the previous season.
In terms of professional victories, Lehman's resume is equally as unimpressive compared to the likes of Woods and Faldo, for example, as the Minnesotan has only won on the PGA Tour five times.
All in all, PGA winnings of $21.4 million are well-deserved, but the majority of the aggregate totals don't compare favorably to Lehman's peers who've also held the world No. 1.