Golfers with the Best Chance to Unseat Tiger Woods Atop the OWGR

Mike DudurichContributor IMarch 11, 2014

Golfers with the Best Chance to Unseat Tiger Woods Atop the OWGR

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    Tiger Woods has been uncomfortable lately, including his spot on top of the Official World Golf Rankings.
    Tiger Woods has been uncomfortable lately, including his spot on top of the Official World Golf Rankings.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Tiger Woods' spiral, yes it's gone on long enough to be a spiral, has brought about a tremendous amount of conversation about just what the end to this is going to be.

    Will he lose his grip on the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings? It's been his home for a long, long time, but he certainly doesn't have the vice-like grip on that spot he used to.

    Those rankings are based on two-year periods of play, and Woods, of course, had a great 2013 and moved into an even more comfortable spot at the top.

    But it's tight at the top, and if Adam Scott had won last week at the WGC-Cadillac and Woods finished seventh or worse, Scott would have taken over the top spot.

    So if Woods, with his 9.9165 average point total, continues to struggle with his game and his back, a change could happen with Scott.

    It will get more and more difficult for those further down the list.

Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott's swing and his recent record make him a worthy challenger to Woods.
    Adam Scott's swing and his recent record make him a worthy challenger to Woods.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Adam Scott is second in the rankings with an average point total of 8.4869.

    Since he won the Masters last April, Scott has been Woods' closest pursuer. As mentioned earlier, he could have climbed to the top last week.

    It stands to reason, based on his 2013 season (two wins, over $4 million earned) and a quick start to 2014 (six starts, six top-25 finishes), he's in the best position to overtake Woods.

    A couple of wins will put him where many golf fans believe he should be.

     

Henrik Stenson

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    Henrik Stenson was awesome in 2013.
    Henrik Stenson was awesome in 2013.Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

    Yes, Woods won five times last year, but, from midseason on, it could be argued that Henrik Stenson played better than anyone else.

    With 8.3415 average points, Stenson is within reach of Woods. As it is for everyone else on this list, if the big Swede puts up a couple of wins this year, he, too, could reach the top.

    The golf world will be watching how Stenson backs up his great year in 2014.

     

Jason Day

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    Jason Day with with yet another piece of hardward.
    Jason Day with with yet another piece of hardward.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    At this point in the list, the odds get a bit higher for the No. 1 hopefuls.

    Again, the rankings are based on two-year periods.

    Jason Day, with 6.9418, would need multiple wins and a string of top-10 or top-15 finishes to even have a shot.

    If Woods can't get it together, it brings everybody closer, but players in this area have much work to do.

     

Phil Mickelson

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    Does Phil Mickelson have another run at No. 1 in him?
    Does Phil Mickelson have another run at No. 1 in him?Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Phil Mickelson's decorated golf career (he's already been inducted into the Hall of Fame) has two things missing: A U.S. Open title and being ranked No. 1 in the world.

    He's spent over 700 weeks in the OWGR Top 10 and has climbed to No. 2 several times, but he made the decision that family would be most important in his life and has been happy playing at the elite level he has for years.

    He's fifth in the OWGR now with a 6.5045 points average, a big gap between him and Woods, especially for a guy who has had to battle physical ailments the last several years.

Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy has already spent time as the No. 1 player in the world.
    Rory McIlroy has already spent time as the No. 1 player in the world.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Rory McIlroy knows about being the No. 1 player in the world. He attained that status very early in his professional career in early 2012 when he won the Honda Classic. He struggled with his game after that and, ironically, suffered an immature meltdown at the same event in 2013.

    He walked off the golf course halfway through a round and it's been a real grind to get back to how he was playing in 2013.

    McIlroy is playing better, but at 6.3157, there's still a big hill to climb. He's at least a two-year project to get back on top.