Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood or Martin Kaymer: Who Is No. 1 and Why?

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIOctober 18, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 17:  Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood walk up the tenth fairway during the first round of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 17, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

As you've probably heard by now, should Tiger Woods stick to his current planned fall schedule and not play in a tournament until the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in early November, Lee Westwood will overtake him at the end of this month for the No. 1 spot in the golf world rankings.

The same Lee Westwood who has hardly swung a golf club in the last three months, by the way. Seems like something might be slightly askew with the ranking system?

Westwood has a better chance of getting to No. 1 (guaranteed chance, in fact) by not playing than he does if he actually played in a tournament. Weird, to say the least.

Westwood was able to play last week at the Dunhill Links Championship, and finished 11th. That finish has put him in a position to unseat Woods.

Westwood, nursing a sore ankle now (after a previous calf injury late summer) may not play himself in China, although he is hoping to. If he should have to skip the event and Tiger were to do well at it, Westwood's time at number one may be short lived.

According to the folks at the world golf rankings, Tiger's last day at No. 1 will be on October 31st. By that date Tiger will have spent 284 consecutive weeks at the top of the rankings, dating back to June of 2005.

Westwood will become the first European at the top since Nick Faldo in 1994, a stretch of 26 years.

The wild card in this whole equation is young German Martin Kaymer, who himself has a chance at the top spot. Kaymer would actually get their by playing well. Strange concept, no?

Kaymer has won three consecutive tournaments and has moved up to No. 4 in the world, just behind Woods, Westwood and Mickelson. If he were to win or finish in second in Spain next week, with Westwood and Woods not playing, Kaymer would become number one before Westwood.

Confused yet? I know I am.

The world rankings are based on a complicated two-year rolling scale with the most recent year having more importance point-wise than the first year. But it is clearly flawed. How Woods was able to stay at No. 1 this long into 2010 is, in itself, a reason for the system to be reviewed.

It should be pointed out that the world's No. 2 player most of the year, Phil Mickelson, had 13 separate occasions throughout 2010 to overtake Woods for No. 1, and each time he failed.

It appears Westwood will pass him on his first attempt, and that will be by not playing.

Can somebody fix this?