Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Tom Lehman: The Long and Short of Being No. 1

Mike RoozenContributor IIApril 26, 2011

DORAL, FL - MARCH 11:  Lee Westwood of England watches his tee shot on the 16th hole during the completion of the first round of the 2011 WGC- Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa on March 11, 2011 in Doral, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

When Lee Westwood won his tournament overseas, and Luke Donald missed his chance at Harbor Town with iron shots that went limp, Lee rolled into The World No. 1 ranking position, which he will certainly hold longer than Tom Lehman, and shorter than Tiger Woods.

People have always said it is lonely at the top, and if that's true you'd have to assume that Tiger thrived on loneliness while Tom didn't like it much at all.

Woods held the top spot for the longest tenure on record and got to wear a golf hat with the word One emblazoned on it for a record-setting 623 weeks. 

Tom holds the record at the other end of the spectrum with the shortest total tenure at the top of just one week. 

Others have held it for just a week, including Tiger, but then returned to the position for a longer total stay.

What is it really like at the top?

Jon Krakauer, who has nothing to do with golf but quite a bit to do with what's its like to get to the top of something, climbed Mount Everest in 1999 with a bunch of others, and assessed what you would think to be an ecstatic moment, in almost desultory terms.

According to Jon, in his book Into Thin Air, "I found myself atop a slender wedge of ice, adorned with a discarded oxygen cylinder and a battered aluminum survey pole, with nowhere higher to climb."

Krakhauer says, "Any impulse I might have had toward self congratulation, was extinguished by overwhelming apprehension about the long dangerous decent that lay ahead."

Certainly Lee Westwood isn't wondering about any treacherous decent over steep ice covered rocks in minus-100 degree temperatures without any air to breathe, but how long he stays at the top will in some ways be determined by how well he likes the rare atmosphere up there.

Following are some interesting stats about the folks who got to the top of the golf heap, and stayed there shorter than Tiger and longer than Tom. 

It will be interesting to see where Lee Westwood plants his flag among this group of distinguished climbers.

Tiger holds two records as Official World No. 1.

Actually, he was in the position for the longest number of consecutive weeks, at 281 from June 12 2005, to October 24 2010. 

He also holds it for the most total weeks in the position at an astonishing 623.

This is a record that will never be broken, similar to the record Brett Favre holds in the NFL for the most number of starts, which is way up in that rarefied Everest air at 297.

Tom Lehman got to the top and only stayed there for a total of one week, but hey, at least he got there.

There's not too much to say about other notables who held the spot for a long time because there is only one, Greg Norman at 331 weeks.

Most of the holders of the title have turned and headed back down almost as quickly as Jon Krakhauer did, after he reached the summit in Nepal.

No one except Tiger and The Shark have held the position for triple-digit numbers of weeks. 

Sir Nick Faldo got the closet to breaking 100 with 97 weeks in office as numero uno.

On the short-duration side, with Tom Lehman is Ernie Els with just nine weeks.

Kind of amazing for a guy who seemed way more talented than that, compared to the relatively-less-known Ian Woosnam, who held the No. 1 spot for 50 weeks.

In any event, Mr. Westwood already has 18 weeks as World No. 1 under his belt, so we'll see how he likes it up there now, and how long he keeps a grip on it.