Golf’s major question

2011-04-30 16:33

Lee Westwood is the world number one golfer again. But he’s irritated because it’s not enough. As a pro-golfer you have to be the right kind of world number one. Without a Major victory, he’s finding that expectation hard to deal with.

Such have been the movements in the top spot of world golf over the past few weeks that the rankings are once again up for debate.

Westwood is not the first to become world number one ­without a Major title under his belt. Of the 14 world number ones since the start of the rankings in 1986, he is the fourth to take the top spot without a ­Major to his name.

Ian Woosnam held the first spot on April 7 1991, then he won the Masters for his first and only Major on April 17 in the same year. Fred Couples took the spot on March 22 1992, then he lifted the Masters on April 12 that year for his first and only Major.

David Duval ruled the number-one roost on March 28 1999, but his first Major only came at the Open in 2001.

The debate about Westwood’s status as world number one is probably understandable.

You don’t take over from 14-time Major-winner Tiger Woods, who ruled as world number one for a record 623 weeks, without there being question marks as to your right to be on top.

This raises the question as to whether one player dominating the world number one spot is better for golf than the current weekly shift, or whether the ­latter is more exciting.

Is the world number-one ranking “cheapened” when it’s held for only a week, as was the case with Tom Lehman, or nine weeks in the case of Ernie Els?

Or does it become “boring” when Woods makes it his own for a few years?

At the moment, the majority of players in the top 10 are within one Major victory of ­becoming world number one.

It’s the greatest number of players in the running for world number one than has ever been the case in ranking history.

While Woods got most things wrong in his private life, he has been aware of one key fact – winning trumps everything.

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