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Duval set to return to World No 1

Tiger Woods won the match. Now he's going to lose his No. 1 ranking.

Exactly one week after Woods' 2 and 1 victory over David Duval in their made-for-television exhibition match, Duval will replace him as No. 1 when the next Official World Ranking is published Monday.

Both players said their "Showdown at Sherwood," the first live telecast of a golf event on prime time, would not decide who was No. 1 in the world.

How right they were.

Never mind that Woods scored a convincing victory. The confusing, at times confounding, world ranking has always had more to do with crunching numbers than with birdies and bogeys.

The ranking is based on points determined by where a player finishes in an official tournament over two years, with points double the value in the current 52 weeks. Then, it is divided by the number of tournaments played.

Woods was fourth in the Buick Open last year and got 12 points, a total that will be reduced to six points on Monday. The four points he had for finishing eighth in the Buick in 1997 will expire next week.

For losing 10 points but also one event, his average will go from 14.04 to 14.13.

Duval, on the other hand, missed the cut in 1997 and did not play the Buick Open last year. So he loses no points and one tournament, and will go from 13.92 to 14.20. Duval also picked up six points for finishing 11th in the Greater Hartford Open last week. He closed with a 63, which effectively helped him move back to No. 1.

"This certainly shows the two players are so closely matched that the No. 1 position is hard to call at the moment," said Tony Greer of IMG, who administers the PGA Tour-sanctioned world ranking from London.

Woods was No. 1 for 41 weeks until Duval replaced him after winning The Players Championship, and his lead increased when he won the next week in Atlanta. He held the spot for 14 weeks until Woods got it back with victories in the Memorial and the Western Open, along with a third-place finish in the U.S. Open.

Woods has been No. 1 the past five weeks.

Unless Woods finishes higher in the PGA Championship, Duval can expect to be No. 1 for at least two more weeks. Based on the two-year rolling scale, Duval will continue to lose fewer points than Woods.

After that, Duval will start losing the points he earned for winning three straight tournaments at the end of the 1997 season, and Woods likely will regain No. 1.

Got it?

This isn't the first time the world ranking figures to come under heavy criticism.

Duval had no peer in the first quarter of the year when he won four times. Still, Woods remained No. 1 on the strength of his four victories in 1997, including the Masters (majors are worth more points).

"Somebody is going to have to explain to me what I'll have to do to get to No. 1," Duval said earlier this year. At the time, he had won nine times in 29 tournaments.

The answer appears to be simple.

Just play the No. 1 player in an exhibition match and get beat.