Date: March 05, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Scott: top spot has never been closer

Adam Scott has been thereabouts in the official world rankings since 2004, and when he was asked over the summer about the notion of his reaching No. 1, he admitted it was “like the wild childhood dream&apos&apos. But the time has come for the Australian who grew up idolising this country&aposs only man to reach No.1, Greg Norman. With Tiger Woods making his worst-ever start to a season and withdrawing from the Honda Classic last weekend with back spasms, a sliver of opportunity has been presented to Scott, who is at a career-best world No. 2. The bottom line is that if Scott can win the World Golf Championship Cadillac Championship at Doral&aposs &aposBlue Monster&apos in Florida this weekend, and Woods either cannot play or finishes out of the running (by some accounts, lower than seventh), then the 33-year-old Queenslander will have scaled to No. 1 in the world. Woods has utterly dominated the No. 1 position on the rankings for most of the past 15 years, holding the mantle for a record 673 weeks. Much of that time he was miles in front of the rest of the world&aposs best players, a fact acknowledged by Scott when he was asked about it in December, during his run of wins in Australia. “For so long No 1 was so far from being attainable for me,&apos&apos he said. “I sat there and watched Tiger Woods be double the points ahead of the second player in the world. It never really entered my mind, but I&aposve never been closer now. I think if I keep working the way I have been and performing the way I have been, it&aposs possible to get there. I don&apost think I&aposm far off being the best player in the world at the moment, but I&aposm going to have to raise my game to that next level and the only way to get there is to win tournaments, because the guy who&aposs there is winning five a year … average. I&aposve got to raise my game to get there but it&aposs as close as it&aposs ever been.&apos&apos Woods is on 10.04 points to Scott&aposs 8.55 points. The Australian has been closing the margin for the past few months with his big win in the Barclays Championship during the American PGA Tour playoffs, then wins in the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Masters. Returning after a six-week break last weekend, he was very solid with a tied-12th position at the Honda Classic in Florida, brushing off the cobwebs. Greg Norman is the only Australian to have achieved the No. 1 ranking since the official system was adopted in 1986, the Shark sitting on top of the pile for 331 weeks until Woods came along. Only 16 men have done it, such has been the dominance of Woods, most recently the likes of Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald when Woods spent time out of the game. Then Woods won five times last year, reclaiming the mantle. Woods&apos status for this week at Doral has not been clear. Suffering the same back spasms that bothered him last year, the 14-time major champion left PGA National saying that he needed treatment, but he did not go to Doral on Tuesday as he normally would. Plainly he is trying to get up to play, but he would not take risks for his longer-term health with the majors coming up from next month. He, Scott and world No. 3 Henrik Stenson are grouped together at 12.39 Florida time in round one (4.39am Friday, AEST), with the groupings done on rankings. This means that Jason Day, the world No. 4, is in the previous group with Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. Woods&apos situation means that the door is open for any of these men to take the No. 1 ranking. There are four Australians — Scott, Day, Scott Hend and Brett Rumford — in the 69-man field on a course that has been remodelled since Woods won last year. The &aposBlue Monster&apos, so named for the stretch of water that runs alongside the left of the 18th hole, is well-known to Australians as the venue for Craig Parry&aposs famous hole-out six-iron to win this tournament in 2004. Day should be right in this event on form, too, and he is looking forward to this year&aposs majors, having performed so consistently in the past. He won the WGC matchplay last month and today, he admitted that he felt nerves when he contended at Augusta National in 2011. “The pressure did get a little bit to me,” he told reporters. “Being in that situation was an amazing feeling going through my body. The rush that I got through my body after I birdied 15 was amazing. To have the lead there and go, &aposOh, man, I only have three holes left; if I can play well from here, I&aposll be the first Australian to win it.&apos It was an amazing feeling. “I think if I was in that situation again, I probably would have slowed down a lot more. And that&aposs why you learn from it.” Male players who were ranked No. 1 1 Tiger Woods United States 673 weeks 2 Greg Norman Australia 331 3 Nick Faldo England 97 4 Seve Ballesteros Spain 61 5 Luke Donald England 56 6 Ian Woosnam Wales 50 7 Nick Price Zimbabwe 44 8 Rory McIlroy Northern Ireland 39 9 Vijay Singh Fiji 32 10 Lee Westwood England 22 11 Fred Couples United States 16 12 David Duval United States 15 13 Ernie Els South Africa 9 14 Martin Kaymer Germany 8 15 Bernhard Langer Germany 3 16 Tom Lehman United States 1 Official World Golf Rankings started in 1986 Adam Scott&aposs year-end world ranking 2000 166 2001 48 2002 40 2003 25 2004 11 2005 9 2006 4 2007 7 2008 17 2009 34 2010 24 2011 5 2012 5 2013 2