There is no argument at this point that there is not clear top golfer in the world. However, the question now changes from Tiger's ability to everyone else's ability to take ahold of the golf world.
What comes into question is a golfer's ability to maintain their game. That is where Tiger was able to hold his throne for so long, for two different time periods. Right now, that is what seems to become the determining factor is in finding a World No. 1.
So the question now becomes who is the next person who will take the throne of golf. So who seems to be in line to become golf royalty?
It appears right now that the top spot is more a revolving door, open for anyone to take. Through the 2011 season, I believe there will be multiple No. 1s, which is why in this show there are golfers who would have to play well for a year just to earn the spot on this list, because there isn't a top dog.
The current man atop golf fits the bill to be a No. 1 golfer in many assets.
Lee Westwood is a capable golfer, he has tons of talent and seems to be able to work at his game and conquer the overwhelming issues he has faced in the past year, including injury.
At the Ryder Cup, there were few if any golfers who dominated as much as Westwood did. Despite injury, Westwood was still able to bring in two victories, one at the St. Jude Classic and the other in South Africa.
However, right now, Westwood seems to be a little rusty. His game is not where it should be for someone of his ability.
As well, Westwood's decision to return to Europe is not for just a show of European support. It is because he struggles in the United States to play well. His win last year at the St. Jude Classic was the first he has had in the new millenium.
The other issue he has had is he has not won a major recently (or ever), whether in Europe or the United States. Westwood was just a putt away from the playoff at Torrey Pines, but he couldn't hold it together. If he doesn't win a major, Westwood's stay at the top will be short-lived.
All criticisms aside, Westwood could very well become a leader in the game of golf. All he needs to find is the ability to finish in more tournaments, and he will get there.
If the world's top player can keep a hold on the top spot, then the world's second best player can do so.
Martin Kaymer appears to have everything a No. 1 needs: potential, wins, finishing talent and, most importantly, a major.
Kaymer's PGA Championship, in my opinion, should have already placed him ahead of Westwood, who didn't even play the week he surpassed Tiger Woods.
Besides his major, Kaymer also won three tournaments in Europe. While I do see the European Tour as having less depth, Kaymer's most recent win at Abu Dhabi, 24-under total (eight stroke margin), seems to show that he isn't just capable of winning, he can demolish a field.
The biggest negatives going against Kaymer is a lack of consistent play. While he did win four tournaments before 2010 (2008 and 2009), he still never kept his name in contention consistently.
Of course, as with Lee Westwood, I don't think Kaymer found the United States' courses as suited to him as the European circuit, and Kaymer stuck to Europe for the majority of 2011.
As well, Kaymer's early win was unfortunately followed by a near missed cut this past week.
However, as with Westwood, I can see Martin Kaymer holding the No. 1 position and providing a constant contender.
The number one 2010 Ryder Cup snub Paul Casey, currently ranked sixth in the world, fits the bill of a World No. 1.
Despite the fact he was left off the 2010 Ryder Cup, Casey was ranked in the top 10 of the world. That set up a load of questions as to why Padraig Harrington, who was essentially off the map of golf at the time, was chosen over Paul Casey.
Casey has 12 professional golf wins, one of which is on the PGA Tour. However, these numbers are heavily skewed by the fact that he didn't come over to the tour early on in his career. However, he is now a member of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, giving him a fair mix of tournaments.
Casey does lack a few things, however. He still needs to win more tournaments on the PGA Tour, in order to prove he is capable of succeeding on both tours. There is no lack of ability when he is in Europe, that is not in dispute.
And as with Lee Westwood, he lacks a major championship. While I don't say it is a requirement, it certainly makes him a more valid candidate.
Paul Casey, in my opinion, is one of the more valid candidates to become the top player in the world.
In a little shift from the top 10 in the world golf rankings, we look to 13th, where Matt Kuchar is sitting.
Last year, Kuchar picked up 11 total top 10s, a win, a second place and three third place finishes. Oh yeah, and he made 20 out of 26 top 25s (three of which he MC).
This year Kuchar has three top 10s through three events.
To be honest, I am shocked he hasn't gotten higher up in the rankings than the current status at 13th he has. I think he definitely deserves to be ranked higher on that. Another flaw with the OWGR, there is no real good system.
Kuchar has proven that he has the capability to be a great player. Even in 2008 and 2009, where he missed six and nine cuts, he still had five top fives each year. He has all the ability a professional golfer can ask for.
His driving accuracy is off the charts good, and his GIR reflects so.
The only thing is Kuchar doesn't have a major. Not a big deal, but for a golfer of his caliber, not as hard a goal as it seems.
I think Matt Kuchar really could be a force for years to come not only on the PGA, but wherever he may take his game to compete.
We move one further back, to 14th, to find Dustin Johnson.
Let me say this now: As of this moment, I think Johnson is more a work-in-progress than fully ready, but he certainly could become a candidate for the No. 1 spot.
Last year was great for Johnson. He picked up his third and fourth career victories, while becoming legendary for his finishes in a major.
Dustin Johnson has the potential to overpower golf, as despite his issues with driving accuracy, he is well above average in his GIR. Last year, Johnson had seven top 10s out of 20 cuts made (three MC).
As of this year, Johnson has two top 10s and should have played better at the Waste Management after setting the bar high. Expect him to be in the mix this week, however, at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the tournament Johnson has owned recently.
We all know the negative to Johnson about not having a major, but we also know how much closer he has come than others.
Dustin Johnson is just another name in the depth of an extremely talented group of elite golfers.
Back to the top 10; we go to find Graeme McDowell sitting at fifth.
As of recent, McDowell seemed to be one of the best players to be on the course. He defeated Tiger Woods at the Chevron, where it really was a runaway by those two to force a playoff.
Even further back, he was the clutch man in the Ryder Cup, sinking a pivotal putt.
Go a little further back again, he won the US Open. Yes, that's right, he has a major.
So far this year, McDowell played once on the PGA and came in third, at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Over in Abu Dhabi, he finished in third, which, if you take away Martin Kaymer, is a very close second.
Graeme McDowell appears to be here to make his home. He isn't just visiting the elite of golf, he is becoming one. If he can keep it up this year, he could very well take the throne.
Sitting pretty at No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings, we find Phil Mickelson.
Good old lefty can still get it done.
We all know Phil's history. He has 38 career wins, including a Masters last year, alongside a few other major trophies. No issue with a major recently here.
Phil also has played well so far, taking second at the Farmers Insurance Open, and T29 at the Waste Management. Phil very well could have played a better final round and moved that up, but instead he settled on an even par round.
I believe in Phil that he can do this, despite how many times he has blown the opportunity to attain the Official World Golf No. 1 position.
I think you have to like Phil on this list, he's still got what it takes and has the experience to assist him.
Sliding in at eighth in the Official World Golf Rankings, Steve Stricker is probably not as anticipated as the names before him.
2010 was a solid year for Stricker, who won two tournaments and came in third twice, while posting five more top 10s outside of those. He made every cut that he tried to, that's 19 for 19, folks.
The thing I like about Stricker is his cool demeanor. I think he truly embodies what a golfer should be like in a perfect world. Soft-spoken, but not every time. Well-mannered on the course, absolutely the last man who would swear near the mics.
There are so many things to like about Stricker, and he has always been a consistent stick.
The only draw back is the issue of majors: He has none of them. His best finish was in 1998, in solo second at the PGA Championship.
If Steve wants to make the Hall of Fame and take over as world No. 1, he has to either rack up the wins or take home a major or two.
Outside the top 10 again, at 11th in the world, Ernie Els makes this list of suitors.
Last year was relatively successful, with Els capturing two tournament titles, while collecting five other top 10 finishes. However, this year has not gone as well. Only one out of two tournaments did Els make top 25, and where Els succeeded was his early play in 2010.
While he may be a little bit past the age to truly dominate the game, Ernie could certainly attain the No. 1 ranking.
All it takes is a few more wins(maybe another major), some higher percentages of top 10s, or just someone erasing one of the 1s from eleven, and Ernie could be number one.
The biggest issue is consistency. At his stage of his career, Els can still compete, however, he is an older man to the rest of the golf world. His age will catch up with him eventually.
Ernie Els is one of my lower selections to be able to take this spot, as he still lacks something that makes him an easy pick.
As Johnson is, I would consider McIlroy as a work in progress, despite his ranking at seventh in the Official World Golf Rankings.
It isn't too often Tiger Woods hands out a compliment like saying that you will be the best. However, Tiger did. He guaranteed that at one point of McIlroy's career, he will become the world's top player.
So what's stopping him? He's a little young, so to demand he move on majors is ridiculous. However, McIlroy did win in his "rookie" season on tour, but lost Rookie of the Year to more frequent PGA Tour player RIckie Fowler.
I firmly believe that McIlroy staying in Europe is for the best for his early career. Remember, he's only about 21 years old. Not like he needs to be across an ocean constantly. However, the PGA Tour will gain a huge re-addition of McIlroy at whatever point he pleases to come back.
Like I said, it's hard to argue with Tiger Woods' opinion. He says that Rory is going to do it, so you should be believing in him as well.
I see a bright future for McIlroy, and for sure a top spot in golf, at one point or another.
Anther preemptive judgement on my part, with Haas all the way at 46th in the world; however, I will stick by Haas in this situation.
It took four events for Haas to fall outside the top 25, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he took T29. Up until then, Haas had shown all the potential of a golfer like his father Jay.
Last year, Haas won two tournaments, and came in second once, and one more top 10. This year, he already has a second.
Bill Haas' swing is a very nice, smooth motion that produces consistency.
The issues are apparent: lack of established power, lack of majors, lack of wins.
Say what you want, but right now, there is no more consistent golfer than Bill Haas.
This is going way out on a limb with the 77th ranked golfer in the world.
Even to say he is where Dustin Johnson is, seems sketchy at this point.
However, I think Garcia is on his way back to golf greatness he achieved in years past. I do not think he is in any way ready to take the No. 1 in golf, but if he finds himself, and plays to his potential, by early next year you could hear talks about Garcia again.
What Garcia needs badly, not only for ranking, but for confidence, is a major. But let's start with a win first. Those are the keys to Sergio's return.
If Sergio truly is on his way back, as his T9 finish in Qatar indicates, you could see the rebuilding of one of golf's big talents.
It seemed necessary to drop someone in like Molinari, because of the potential he has shown at the 17th ranking in the world.
Best known for being one of the two Molinari brothers, Francesco has established himself pretty well in golf. Despite the fact he has only won a few times so far, he still has time at age 28. In fact, he is about to hit some of his prime years for golf.
The reason I picked Francesco is because he is someone not many people would think of, but with his win at the WGC HSBC, could certainly make something out of the next few years.
Due to point systems, Molinari's climb would be tough.
He lacks PGA status, which is where a lot of points lie, and he also lacks a major, not a shock given what's above.
Put Molinari down as the second least likely player to attain No. 1, behind Sergio.
There are so many reasons to like Bubba Watson, and he would make a great No. 1, personality wise.
Sitting at 18th, Bubba has shown the ability to get into the thick of things despite his lack of, well, anything traditional about his swing.
Last year, he came within a whiff of the PGA Championship, and he has won already this year at Torrey Pines.
Bubba is a fun golfer to see play. He has the guts to hit almost any shot, and that could push him over the top as a golfer.
However, Bubba's game also gets in the way of things. His distance can cause issues when it comes to accuracy. And that go-for-it-all mentality cost him the PGA Championship in 2010.
Bubba is on this list because he could hit a hot streak and ride it to the top. However, the biggest question is could he hold onto it? My answer, for now, is no.
Well, if there's anyone capable of taking the top position in golf again, it certainly could be the man who has shaped the game of golf over the past decade or so.
The question is, when will Tiger be Tiger? His putting is not even close to normal, his swing is still erratic, and we still don't know who Tiger Woods is.
Tiger just needs to stop trying to be someone he isn't on the course and, of course, cut out the expletives.
If he can just focus on improving his putting, while working to make his swing a more consistent occurrence, he will once again ascend. However, he will not make it if he refuses to play more than once every few weeks.
Tiger needs to push the issue at this point. He can't just sit back and practice. Sometimes, it's best to work through things, not lay back and avoid humiliation.
We all know that if there is anyone who can take golf's top spot with ease, it is this man here. He has left no doubt in my mind that he can make a comeback. Question is, when will he make it?