New world order as Woods set to be knocked off perch
After more than a decade of seeing Tiger Woods' name top of the list, Europe is about to reap the benefits of a long-overdue shift in the world rankings.
England's Lee Westwood could go to No 1 by simply keeping his feet up in his palatial Worksop abode, as he recovers from a calf-muscle injury.
However, if Germany's Martin Kaymer finishes either first or second in the Andalucian Masters this weekend, he will top the rankings, with Westwood at No 2 and Woods No 3.
Either way, it will be the first occasion since Nick Faldo in January 1994 that a European has been No 1.
Woods first went to No 1 in January '98, and aside from a few months in 2004 when Vijay Singh headed the rankings, the American has stayed top of the pile.
The closest any European got to the top in recent years was when Sergio Garcia moved to second in March last year. Padraig Harrington went from No 14 to a career-high of No 3 after capturing the 2007 British Open; the Dubliner was also third in the world in February last year.
Keith Waters, director of international policy with the European Tour, says attracting sponsors is going to be easier with Europeans heading the world rankings.
"In these challenging financial times, for Europe to have the No 1 and No 2 is going to be tremendous for the Tour," he said. "When we are talking to promoters and sponsors, it's got to be a big help.
"But now when we are talking to sponsors about the strength of our fields and negotiating TV deals, it's not only going to be about the world's one and two, but also how many European players there are in the top 20."
Ireland's Paul McGinley said that having the Ryder Cup back on this side of the Atlantic, with the reigning US Open and US PGA champions also resident in Europe, is huge.
"The ranking system is self-propagating and for the last 10 years US Tour players have benefited from having Tiger as No 1 and Phil Mickelson as No 2," McGinley claimed.
"The more higher-ranked players in the field, the more ranking points available at their tournaments.
"But if we have the top two players in the world playing in Europe, and with three out of this year's four Major-winners being European Tour members, there are going to be more ranking points available to our players every week."
The Ryder Cup vice-captain also predicted a growth in interest in golf once Woods' reign as No 1 comes to an end.
"Rather than just having one guy at the top, it could now develop into a great race to be world No 1," added McGinley. "It's going to create more interest."