Tiger Woods could lose No. 1 ranking by Masters

Guy Spurrier of Canada’s National Post newspaper asks a pretty good question: How long can Tiger keep his No. 1 ranking without, you know, playing golf? The fact that he’s kept the top spot without playing for seven or so months speaks to Tiger’s well-documented awesome-ness, but Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson (Nos. 2 and 3 respectively) would have to overtake him eventually. So how close are they? Spurrier crunches the numbers:

When he left the tour to have his left knee repaired, he had 21.54 ranking points, more than double that of Phil Mickelson, who was ranked second. Currently, Woods has 12.88 rankings points and leads No. 2 Sergio Garcia by about 4.4 points. The rankings are a rolling two-year average of points accumulated in tournaments weighted based on most recent events and the importance of events. By not playing, Woods loses about 1.1 percent of his points a week, Spurrier says, which means he’ll have about 10.5 ranking points at the Masters, the tournament everyone expects Tiger to return for.
Spurrier concludes that Tiger may have already lost the spot by then. By then, he could already be the pursuer. The super Swedes, Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson, have already moved to No. 6 and 7 in the world. Garcia always appears on the verge of true greatness and has reached No. 2 on the strength of finishing in the top five in eight of his last nine tournaments. A year ago, Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim were ranked Nos. 56 and 75; now they are eighth and 12th. Imagine Tiger returning to the Masters without his No. 1 ranking and with Padraig Harrington halfway to the Paddy Slam. Woods will be out for revenge like Mel Gibson in Braveheart after the sheriff kills Mel's wife. More on Woods: Tiger Tracker | Enemies and rivals | Life in pictures | 2008 season

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by Kevin Cunningham