Westwood, Mickelson within striking distance of Tiger Woods in rankings

August 05, 2010|By Jeff Shain, Tribune Newspapers

Phil Mickelson no longer is the only man with a chance to topple Tiger Woods from atop the world rankings.

Coming off his runner-up finish at the British Open, Lee Westwood has inched close enough to put Woods in his sights at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. If the English pro wins, Woods would have to finish second to remain No. 1.

"I'm feeling refreshed and ready to go again," said Westwood, who has been nursing a calf injury since before the British Open.

Woods has spent 270 consecutive weeks atop the rankings but has seen the gap shrink while remaining winless in seven starts this year. Also playing for the first time since the British Open, he arrives with a 9.8 rating over the last 24 months.

Mickelson, getting his seventh crack at toppling Woods, has a 9.3 rating this week. He can reach the top spot even with a fourth-place finish if Woods is outside the top 37. Westwood comes to the WGC-Bridgestone with a 9.1 rating.

Bad timing: Ray Halbritter had hoped his entry into this week's Turning Stone Championship might serve as an inspiration for American Indian youth. Instead, he drew the ire of PGA Tour pros trying to keep their jobs. Halbritter, Oneida Nation chairman and Turning Stone Resort CEO, is a 2-handicapper who last year passed the PGA of America's playing ability test at 59. As such, he gave himself an exemption.

Such a move might have been accepted early in the year, but not with just three events left for pros to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs. Halbritter wisely gave up his spot.

Tap-ins: Woods has agreed to return to the Dubai Desert Classic next year, announcing his plans 194 days before the start of the February event. That's 186 days more lead time than he offered this week's WGC stop. … Wells Fargo decided the dust has cleared enough to attach its name to the PGA Tour's Charlotte stop. It chose to call it the Quail Hollow Championship amid the nation's banking backlash.

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