May 07, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Henrik Stenson needs to finish sixth or better at THE PLAYERS to take over No. 1 (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Three former champions and a guy who hasn't finished higher than 37th at THE PLAYERS all have a chance to move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Defending champion Tiger Woods, the current world No. 1, remains sidelined by the microdiscectomy he had prior to the Masters to alleviate the pain from a pinched nerve in his back. So his absence leaves the ranking's top spot vulnerable again this week.
Adam Scott, who currently ranks No. 2, only needs to finish 16th or better to overtake Woods while Henrik Stenson could grab the No.1 spot with a finish of sixth or better. Scott won the 2004 PLAYERS while Stenson, who ranks third in the world, is the 2009 champion.
In an odd mathematical twist, Scott actually could have taken over No. 1 in the ranking, which is based on a sliding scale of points accrued and eliminated over a two-year period, had he stayed home and not entered THE PLAYERS. Not that the talented Aussie would have considered doing that, of course.
"Obviously playing THE PLAYERS means more to me than sitting at home just to get to a No. 1 world ranking," Scott said.
Scott has had several other opportunities this year to join his mentor, Greg Norman, as the only Australians to lead the world rankings. Norman was No. 1 for a total of 331 weeks.
"Look, I'm here to win golf tournaments," Scott said. "That's been the goal, and from that you can get to No. 1 in the world if you win enough, often enough.
"I've had a couple good chances this year already and haven't been able to pull it off, not because it's been weighing on my mind, but I just wasn't sharp enough playing the last couple rounds at a few events."
Bubba Watson, who moved to a career-high No. 4 with his second Masters win in the last three years, could also supplant Woods with a solo runner-up finish. Fifth-ranked Matt Kuchar, the 2012 PLAYERS champ, needs another victory on Sunday to take over No. 1.
"To be No. 1 in the world at anything is amazing," Kuchar said. "To have a chance to be No. 1 in the world in the game of golf, I think all of us that play have those dreams. ... That's cool to have that chance right now."
Watson's best finish in six appearances at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a tie for 37th, which he has accomplished twice, most recently last year. When someone mentioned the possibility of reaching No. 1 during his Tuesday interview, Watson laughed.
"Let's go ahead and write that down on paper," he said. "My best finish is 37th. So unless 37th moves me to No. 1, we probably don'tneed to worry about that."
Obviously, these predictions could change depending on whether any of the other three are positioned higher than each baseline.