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Singh getting ever closer to World No.1

Vijay Singh, the game's hottest player over the last eight months, has closed the gap on world number one Tiger Woods in the rankings following his victory at the New Orleans Classic.

Fijian Singh, who moved to second in the pecking order last October, has inched to within 2.14 points of Woods - the narrowest margin between the American and the second-ranked player since the standings were revamped in September 2001.

Singh fired a closing nine-under-par 63 to win by one shot in New Orleans on Monday, capping a dramatic comeback with a birdie on the 18th hole to clinch his third title of the year.

The 40-year-old, who last year ended Woods's four-year reign as the PGA Tour's leading money-winner, has replaced U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson at the top of the 2004 money list with $4,267,866 from 12 tournaments.

Singh has won five times in his last 17 tour starts in the United States.

Woods, who has not played since tying for 22nd at last month's U.S. Masters, remained world number one for a record 247th consecutive week, and 317th week overall.

The 28-year-old American is just 14 weeks short of Greg Norman's 331 weeks in top spot, the record since the official rankings were introduced in 1986.

In the only changes this week to the world's top 10, Mickelson replaced fellow left-hander Mike Weir at number five.

Mickelson carded a final-round 66 to share second place at the New Orleans Classic and moved up one spot in the rankings.

Triple major winner Ernie Els stayed at three and Davis Love III at four while Weir slipped to six.

On the European Tour, Britain's Graeme McDowell won the weather-hit Italian Open in a playoff on Monday, edging out Frenchman Thomas Levet at the fourth extra hole. McDowell shoots up 95 spots to 145th in the world.

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