All season long, we’ve speculated as to who would eventually overtake Tiger Woods as the number one ranked player in the World Golf Rankings. Many thought it would be Phil Mickelson, who had chance after chance to become number one for the first time in his career, but every time Phil got close, things just didn’t go his way and Tiger’s reign at the top continued. Well now we have a new number one for the first time since 2005, as Lee Westwood has moved in front of Tiger and can now be known as the number one player in the world.
It’s been a great year for Westwood overall, and it probably could have been even better had he not suffered an injury in August that caused him to miss the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Westwood was once again a huge factor in major championships, but still was unable to cash in and win his first ever major.
But in a year where there was so much uncertainty in professional golf, Westwood was the constant that played well time after time, and there’s no doubt that he’s earned this number one ranking. I’m glad that he’s finally got to the top of the rankings, because he’s had a great career, even if that big win at a major still alludes him. But it seems like a forgone conclusion now that he will win a major championship at some point, and perhaps this ranking will give him the confidence to do so in 2011.
After all, Westwood’s finishes at majors this season was kind of ridiculous. He finished second at the Masters and U.S. Open, and third at the British Open. We just don’t see that kind of consistency anymore from anyone in major championships, including Tiger. This is a guy that brings it time in and time out to the big tournaments, and that’s a necessary ingredient for being the top ranked player in the world.
Even without the major though, Westwood was able to lead his European Ryder Cup team to victory in Wales, which was without a doubt a huge accomplishment. The Ryder Cup sometimes gets overlooked by the casual golf fan as a tournament that doesn’t mean much, but to the players, this is a huge deal. And for the Europeans to reclaim the cup on their home turf meant a lot, and Westwood was one of the leaders of that team.
Again, it’s just great to see Westwood at the top, and hopefully he can have an extended stay there. With all the questions surrounding the future of Tiger’s game, if Westwood can have the type of year in 2011 that he has had in 2010, it’s going to be hard for anyone to knock him out of that ranking.
Congrats to Westwood on this great achievement!