The tussle for number one – an intercontinental challenge

by Golfer on

For the first time in the 30-year history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the number one position on the Official World Golf Rankings is on the line. Lee Westwood knows that in order for him to retain his spot as the highest ranked player, he has to either win in Sun City or at worst finish as the runner-up; that is assuming that Tiger Woods wins in California.

Tiger Woods - Chevron World Challenge

Tiger Woods - Chevron World Challenge. Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Woods, hosting and leading the Chevron World Challenge by four shots, certainly looks to be in control there and well on his way to breaking a winless drought that goes back 12 months.

Westwood was quizzed on the permutations surrounding the coveted number one position, but he made it clear that he was not at all concerned about Tiger Woods may or may not do. “I have no interest in what is happening (in the Chevron event). I know what I have to do – I am here to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge,” said Westwood, who is certainly playing the sort of sort golf one might expect from a golfer occupying the number one spot.

It is indeed surprising that the 2010 battle at the top of the world rankings has come down to the results at two special, non-official tournaments. There is no question that this turn of events had added spice to both of these tournaments, but just how important is the number one position? This can probably be answered in one word: ‘very’. Particularly in terms of endorsements, the difference between being number one and number two is considerable, and both Woods and Westwood would obviously love to start the 2011 season in pole position.

At the Chevron Challenge, Woods was reported to have shouted to Ian Poulter: “Don’t you know how to mark your ball?” This was in reference to the penalty stroke Poulter incurred at the Dubai World Championships. Poulter, never one to be at a loss for words, replied: “Take it easy number two.”

Lee Westwood Day 2 at the Nedbank Golf Challenge 2010, Sun City

Lee Westwood Day 2 at the Nedbank Golf Challenge 2010, Sun City

Woods would love nothing better to get back on top after a year that has not been his happiest or most successful. But the way Westwood is going about his business in Sun City, Woods is going to have to live with the fact that he will spend the festive season knowing that he is not the official number one – but both players still have 36 holes to play – with a lot at stake.

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