Lee Westwood replaced Tiger Woods as the World’s No. 1-ranked golfer. Woods stopped being the No. 1 player in the world way before today’s World Golf Ranking. It was nearly a year ago, Nov. 27, 2009, when Tiger Woods famously drove that Cadillac Escalade into that tree outside his Orlando home and was found half asleep, muttering and shoeless in the street. Even nearly 12 months later, the image of the uber-perfect Tiger – gorgeous family, a championship career unlike any in sport, wealth beyond the Sultan of Brunei’s dreams, a billion-dollar smile and a fitness level to make Jack LaLanne drop and do crunches – in such disarray is jarring.
Tiger Woods was no longer the No. 1 player in the world. He may have been ranked No. 1, because of complexities involving two-year’s worth of points systems, but nobody thought of him as such. Probably not even, in the deepest reaches of his soul, Tiger Woods himself.
Will Tiger make it back to No. 1? Yes, he will. The finalization of his divorce, plus the challenge of mastering a new swing coach’s thoughts will stir in Tiger a new fire, and he will re-ascend to the top spot in 2011.
Will he stay at No. 1 for another 281 weeks, as he did until today? No, he will not. The landscape is new. Young players were born into a Tiger-free golf world, and the No. 1 spot will bounce among them and Tiger for the next few years. Tiger’s nerve for putting isn’t what it used to be, nor are his knees, nor is his aura of invincibility.