Tiger Woods No Longer #1 in Golf—Sports World Yawns

Why the new rankings mean less than you think

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For a record-breaking 281 consecutive weeks, Tiger Woods was the world's No. 1 golfer. But on Monday, the World Golf Rankings released its numbers and Woods dropped behind England's Lee Westwood. That rounds off an abysmal 12-month stretch for Woods, in which he ruined his marriage and reputation. But does this mark the decline of his career? Not necessarily. Here's why sports writers are less than enthused about the new ranking:

  • This Ranking Is Baloney, writes Garry Smits at The Florida Times-Union:

Lee Westwood is the No. 1-ranked player in the world because a computer told us Sunday. Like BCS computers that told us in 2001 that Nebraska deserved to play for the national championship despite failing to win its Big 12 division, it's flawed.

Overall, the way in which the World Golf Rankings are calculated isn't the worst system in sports. ... But the system hasn't worked here because it's spit out the name of a player who will be the first world No. 1 under the current system to end a season without having won a major championship in his career.

  • Yawn  "It wasn't exactly an exciting takeover by Westwood," The Washington Post's Cindy Boren writes. "He has finished only one tournament since the British Open because of a calf injury and he was destined to move up as long as Martin Kaymer, the PGA champion, didn't finish among he top two at the Andalucia Masters in Spain. Kaymer tied for 21st."

Most of Westwood’s success has been on the European Tour where he’s won 20 times during his career. He has won 32 times around the world, but has yet to capture a major championship (he was runner-up at both the Masters and British Open this year). Other players including Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker had chances to grab the No. 1 ranking this year, but none of them could close the deal. Westwood’s stay might be short lived as all of the players above are now tightly bunched at the top of the rankings.

For most people, it seemed inevitable that Tiger Woods would eventually lose his No. 1 world ranking, what with his knee beginning to cause him problems in 2008 and, oh yes, the car crash that led to an endless string of claims of infidelity that led to a divorce.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.