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Sergio Garcia within range of World No.1 spot

Sergio Garcia will arrive for the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa this week within striking distance of overtaking Tiger Woods as the world's No. 1 player.

Garcia could knock Woods off his perch here in South Florida during the next two weeks, but it will take a Tiger-like effort.

Garcia entered the Accenture Match Play Championship this past week at No. 2 in the world, trailing Woods by 1.74 average points. Woods will stretch his advantage when the newest rankings come out based on Woods' first-round victory at the Accenture and Garcia's first-round exit.

''There's no way Sergio can overtake Tiger at the Honda Classic, but it's mathematically possible he could do it the next week at the CA Championship,'' said Ian Barker, the Official World Golf Ranking administrator.

With a victory at the Honda Classic, and a second- or third-place finish at the CA Championship at Doral, Garcia could ascend to No. 1. This scenario would also require that Woods finish near the back of the pack at the CA Championship, should he play at Doral, as expected.

While it will take a giant effort for Garcia to overtake Woods in South Florida, the point is that a legitimate battle for No. 1 is being waged with Woods back in action after more than eight months off.

With a victory at Honda, Garcia could pull as close as .7 average points from Woods in the world ranking, according to Barker. That would mark the first time anyone has been within a point of Woods in 194 weeks, since June 12, 2005.

Of course, the astounding part of this story is that Woods is still No. 1 despite being away for so long.

Winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last June, his last appearance before reconstructive knee surgery, Woods moved to 21.542 average points.

That was 11.328 more than then No. 2 Phil Mickelson's average.

None of this may matter to Woods, who could seize back the No. 1 ranking should he lose it and quickly mount another giant lead, but the chance to be No. 1 should matter to Woods' colleagues.

Only 12 players have held the No. 1 ranking since the Official World Golf Ranking made its debut on April 6, 1986.


March 5, 2009

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