As I wrote earlier in the semester, Tiger Woods has had his share of troubles (here, and here, and here, and here to name a few). At the time that post came out, I wrote that Woods was now poised to make a “comeback,” if you will. Putting the finality of the divorce in the rearview mirror was all he needed to become the Tiger Woods we all have cheered for and watched dominate the field over the last ten years.
I’m not going to say I was wrong. Tiger, however, just lost his #1 World Golf Ranking this week. While this may seem insignificant to the average fan, this is actually a major blow to Team Tiger. After 281 weeks atop the World Golf Rankings, Week 44 now reflects that Englishman Lee Westwood has supplanted Tiger for the top spot.
The rankings are a bit difficult to comprehend, though not quite to the level of the infamous BCS. According the official website, “The World Ranking Points for each player are accumulated over a two year “rolling” period with the points awarded for each event maintained for a 13-week period to place additional emphasis on recent performances – ranking points are then reduced in equal decrements (of 1/92nd of the original amount) for the remaining 91 weeks of the two year Ranking period. Each player is then ranked according to his average points per tournament, which is determined by dividing his total number of points by the tournaments he has played over that two-year period. There is a minimum divisor of 40 tournaments over the two year ranking period and a maximum divisor of a player’s last 60 events.” (Easy enough, right?)
From his knee surgery two years ago to the trouble both in recovery and last year’s Thanksgiving car crash heard-’round-the-world, Tiger’s reign started to slip away. As Tiger struggled, the field began to close the gap on him. Because of the nature of the ranking points-system, it just took a while. Phil Mickelson had many chances to pass Tiger in the recent months, but in classic “Phil-form” (see #3) squandered all of those opportunities. Martin Kaymer also had opportunities, but couldn’t come through when it mattered. This left the door open for the ever-consistent Lee Westwood. True to form, he’s currently sitting in second place in the HSBC Championship in Shanghai after the first day.
If Tiger only would have turned it up when I first wrote, the streak may have continued. He is, though, playing well this week, and if Westwood stumbles, will be looking to start another stint at #1.