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Lee Westwood could regain World No.1 this week
March 1, 2011

The topsy-turvy nature of the 2011 world rankings could be reflected again this week with Lee Westwood pushing to reclaim the No.1 spot from European Ryder Cup team mate Martin Kaymer.

If the second-ranked Westwood finishes third or better at the Honda Classic in Florida, the absent Kaymer’s reign as number one will have lasted for just a week.

With the elite players now involved in a logjam at the top of the rankings, there is a stark contrast to previous years when Tiger Woods appeared untouchable at the summit.

“At the moment it is as tight as it has been in many a year,” said Tony Greer who helps compile the rankings.

“Tiger has dominated so much in recent years, with a few people snapping at his heels occasionally like Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, and there hasn’t really been much movement in the upper echelons,” Greer told Reuters on Monday.

With Woods and Mickelson also taking time off this week, an opportunity beckons for Rory McIlroy to move into the top five.

The eighth-ranked Briton needs a victory to leapfrog Woods at five, Mickelson at six and the absent Paul Casey at seven.

A McIlroy win would also give Europe a grip on the top five positions for the first time since 1992 when Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer dominated the world order.

The out-of-form Woods dropped out of the top four on Monday and could slip even further next week.

However, it seems that no matter how much his performances deteriorate Woods maintains an Indian sign over arch-rival Mickelson in the rankings.

“Woods is still just ahead. Mickelson hasn’t been in front of Tiger since the 1997 U.S. Masters,” said Greer.

“He had opportunities galore last season. He could have gone past Woods many times but always missed out.”

When the rankings began Greer said it was unimaginable that more than a handful of Europeans would be invited to compete at the Masters, the season’s first major championship.

“We launched the rankings 25 years ago and at that point there were three Europeans in the field for the 1986 Masters — Sandy Lyle, Ballesteros and Langer,” said Greer. “There are already something like 26 Europeans in the field this year.”

Yet another twist to the rankings tale is possible should 13th-ranked Ian Poulter triumph at the Honda Classic. A win for the Briton could potentially give Europe a record total of seven players in the world’s top 10.

“The Americans would not be amused by that,” said Greer.

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