Published October 31, 2010
| Associated Press
SHANGHAI – For the first time in more than five years, Tiger Woods is no longer golf's No. 1 player.
Lee Westwood of England took the top ranking Sunday after PGA champion Martin Kaymer failed to finish among the top two at the Andalucia Masters in Spain.
Westwood is the first European since Nick Faldo in 1994 to be No. 1, and the 13th player to be No. 1 since the ranking system began in 1986.
Woods had been No. 1 since the week before the 2005 U.S. Open, where he was runner-up. He won the British Open a month later and his ranking rarely has been threatened since.
That changed this year, however, when Woods struggled through his worst season on and off the course. He took a five-month break from golf to cope with confessions of extramarital affairs, which ultimately led to divorce, and his game has not been the same.
Westwood is followed in the rankings by Woods, Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker.
Mickelson had a mathematical chance to topple Woods in 12 tournaments. Kaymer could have moved to No. 1 this week at Valderrama, but instead finished out of the top 20.
The torch instead was passed to Westwood, who has been recovering from a calf injury that has allowed him to complete just one tournament since his runner-up finish in the British Open at St. Andrews.
As much as this represents the end of Woods' reign, it also complete an amazing turnaround for Westwood.
The 37-year-old Englishman struggled through a slump so severe that he fell as low as No. 266 on May 25, 2003. He gradually began to work his way back toward the top, and Westwood has been surging the last couple of years.
He missed out on a playoff at the U.S. Open in 2008 and the British Open in 2009 by one shot. He won the Order of Merit on the European Tour last year for the second time in his career, and he had the 54-hole lead at the Masters until finishing second to Mickelson. Westwood also was runner-up at St. Andrews, by seven shots to Louis Oosthuizen.
His only victory this year was the St. Jude Classic in a sudden-death playoff, but he has six finishes in the top five.
This is the 10th time Woods has lost the No. 1 ranking in his career, and the longest he has not been No. 1 was 26 weeks toward the end of the 2004 season and beginning of 2005, when Vijay Singh went on a great run and Woods was in the middle of a swing change.
How long this lasts could depend on this week.
The HSBC Champions in Shanghai has assembled such a strong field that Westwood, Woods, Kaymer or Mickelson could all be No. 1 by the end of the week. The tournament starts Thursday at Sheshan International.
Westwood, meanwhile, becomes only the fourth player to reach No. 1 without winning a major. Ian Woosnam reached No. 1 in 1991 the week before he won the Masters, and Fred Couples was at No. 1 in two separate weeks a month before he won the Masters. David Duval was No. 1 for 15 weeks in 1999, and won the British Open two years later.
(This version CORRECTS Updates with other rankings. Corrects Westwood's low ranking to No. 266. Adds photo links. Will be updated.)