ESPN.com reported the formula used to decide the rankings pushed Scott to the top to begin the week. He had a chance to achieve the top-ranked status at the Players Championship with a top-16 finish, but ended up in a tie for 38th.
Either way, Scott takes over the No. 1 spot for the first time in his career, becoming the 17th man—and just the second Australian—to claim the No. 1 spot in golf. He ends Tiger's run atop the standings after 60 consecutive weeks. Tiger has been ranked No. 1 for 683 weeks in his career.
The ESPN report passed along comments from the Australian star about the honor, which clearly doesn't carry as much weight as the majors:
I think it's a nice feather in the cap. I mean, if I was never world No. 1 when I'm this close, I'd be disappointed. But I'd also much rather win the U.S. Open and not be No. 1 at all this year. That's what it comes down to.
The 33-year-old Aussie has enjoyed a steady rise in recent years. He was a constant presence on the leaderboard during weekend play at the majors before finally breaking through at the 2013 Masters. He added two more top-five finishes on golf's biggest stages last year.
Yet, it still took a long-term injury from Woods for Scott to ascend to the top spot. The 14-time major champion was dominant outside of the majors last season. It allowed him to build a sizable advantage in the rankings.
A back injury has kept him away from competitive action since the WGC Cadillac Championship in March, however. Woods posted a recovery update on his official site on May 5, but still didn't have a clear timetable for his return:
As for my return to golf, I really don't know. I'm doing everything I can and listening to my doctors and working on a strength program, and then we just have to see how my back is. Some people heal up in three months, some people take four months, some people take longer. I just don't know.
His absence opened the door for a host of other golfers to contend for the No. 1 ranking. Along with Scott, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar all had a chance to reach the summit at the Players. None of them could convert.
So now Scott will take over the spot by default. While it's certainly a notable accomplishment, Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel puts it in perspective using the player he's about to overtake:
As Scott admitted, becoming the top-ranked player in the world is nice, but the majors is what every golfer is aiming for. And with Woods still sidelined for an undetermined amount of time, he has a chance to enjoy a memorable summer.
There are three majors left on the schedule, starting with the U.S. Open in June. Given his strong play over the past few years and the lack of a dominant player on tour, he has a great chance to win at least one of the marquee events.
For now, he'll have to settle for celebrating his status as the No. 1 player in the world.