Mickelson stalking Tiger
Phil Mickelson gets another crack at the World No 1 spot this week – and might not have to win anything to get there.
Phil Mickelson gets another crack at the World No 1 spot this week – and might not have to win the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond to get there.
A second-place finish on Sunday will be good enough for the Masters champion to topple Tiger Woods for the first time in his career – providing the field is not weakened by any more notable withdrawals.
Woods, whose only competitive golf this week is in the unofficial JP McManus Pro-am in west Ireland today (Monday) and Tuesday, has opened the door to his great rival by finishing down in 46th place at the AT&T National on Sunday.
With nothing better so far this year than fourth-place finishes at both The Masters and US Open as he tries to recover from the revelations about his private life that sent him into hiding and a rehabilitation clinic during the winter.
Right now Woods is looking more vulnerable than at any time in his career.
The 14-major winner, who next week tries to repeat his runaway 2000 and 2005 victories in The Open at St Andrews, has held top spot on the rankings uninterrupted since June 2005 and for an incredible 607 weeks in all.
Mickelson has been his closest challenger for 253 of those weeks, but his Augusta triumph – the fourth major he has won – hasm brought him within firing distance.
Other opportunities have come and gone in the last two months, but
the left-hander might never have a better chance than this week because most of Europe’s big guns are taking the week off to prepare for St Andrews.
“It would be something very special,” Mickelson said recently. “But to accomplish that I can’t focus on that – I still need to go out and play like the number one player in the world.”
Woods, who has previously lost top spot to Ernie Els, Greg Norman, David Duval and Vijay Singh, was almost inevitably trying to take the positives out of his latest performance.
“I’m excited the way I drove the ball this week, really excited,” he told reporters after failing to break par in all four rounds and finishing 14 shots behind winner Justin Rose. “I felt like I drove it on a string all week.
“I’ve driven the ball better this week than I have in a very long time and I hit driver as many times as I possibly could because it felt so good. That hasn’t been the case lately.
“Unfortunately my iron game wasn’t as sharp as it could be and certainly I putted awful all week.
“I can’t wait to get over there (to Scotland). I’m looking forward to getting my lines, my feels, my numbers over there again. I love playing the golf course.
“I’ve just always loved playing there. That was my first Open Championship. My first introduction to links golf was in ’95 – I got to play Carnoustie in the Scottish (Open) and St Andrews.
“A hell of an introduction. It doesn’t get any better than that. I fell in love with the golf course the first time I played it.
“People think it’s so wide open, but it’s not because in order to get to a lot of the flags you have to put the ball in the correct spot.
“If you keep firing left and the pins are tucked you’re going to have 50, 60, 80-foot putts all day. It’s just an amazing, amazing test of positioning your golf ball.
“Faldo has won there. You don’t have to hit the ball long. It’s just about putting the ball in the correct spots.”
Rose, Jimenez soar in World Rankings
Looking again at the World Rankings, Golf365 also notes that Justin Rose, who started the year down at 70th in the world, has raced all the way back up to 16th after his second victory in the United States in five weeks.
The 29-year-old’s one-shot win at the AT&T National, following as it did his Memorial Tournament triumph at the start of June, now makes it nine Europeans in the World’s Top 16.
Four of the last five events in the States have been won by United Kingdom golfers. Lee Westwood won in Memphis and then Graeme McDowell, of course, captured his first major title at the US Open.
Rose was also leading the Travelers Championship two weeks ago until a closing 75 dropped him to ninth.
Miguel Angel Jimenez’s French Open win, meanwhile, takes him from 50th to 32nd in the rankings.
Latest leading positions in the world golf rankings:
1 Tiger Woods 10.35, 2 Phil Mickelson 9.62, 3 Lee Westwood 8.04, 4 Steve Stricker 7.03, 5 Jim Furyk 6.82, 6 Ernie Els 5.97, 7 Luke Donald 5.51, 8 Ian Poulter 5.44, 9 Rory McIlroy 5.31, 10 Paul Casey 5.20
11 Anthony Kim 4.90, 12 Martin Kaymer 4.89, 13 Graeme McDowell 4.87, 14 Robert Allenby 4.42, 15 Padraig Harrington 4.21, 16 Justin Rose 4.06, 17 Camilo Villegas 4.03, 18 Retief Goosen 3.96, 19 Zach Johnson 3.92, 20 Tim Clark 3.74
Other leading Europeans:
29 Robert Karlsson, 30 Henrik Stenson, 32 Miguel Angel Jimenez, 35 Francesco Molinari, 36 Ross Fisher, 39 Alvaro Quiros, 41 Edoardo Molinari, 44 Sergio Garcia, 48 Peter Hanson, 49 Rhys Davies, 56 Oliver Wilson, 66 Soren Kjeldsen, 70 Soren Hansen, 74 Brian Davis, 75 Anders Hansen, 76 Simon Dyson, 81 Ross McGowan, 82 Fredrik Andersson Hed, 89 Danny Willett, 90 Fredrik Jacobson, 95 Chris Wood, 96 David Horsey, 97 Gregory Bourdy, 100 Alexander Noren
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