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Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Singh shooting for No. 1 ranking

Big Fijian wants to overtake Woods at top

May 6, 2004

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— Vijay Singh leaned back in a chair and flipped through a 13-page news release the PGA Tour puts out each week, containing all the vital data.

It didn't matter that most of the information was outdated. Singh knows exactly where he stands.

No. 1 on the money list.

No. 1 in the all-around ranking that combines all the key statistical categories.

No. 1 in PGA Tour victories this year.

All he has to do now is climb one more rung to get the ranking that matters the most to him: No. 1 in the world.

"I'd like to get to the No. 1 spot. That's been my goal for a long, long time," Singh said Wednesday after his pro-am round at the Wachovia Championship. If there was any chance I was going to get to No. 1, it will probably be this year."

Indeed, there is a sense of urgency at Quail Hollow Club.

The second-year tournament, already regarded as a can't-miss stop on the PGA Tour, features the strongest field since the Masters with only Ernie Els (No. 3) missing among the top six players in the world.

That means more world ranking points are available this week, and that means everything to the top two players.

Tiger Woods, No. 1 in the world the last 247 weeks, is assured of keeping his top ranking no matter what happens this week. He also recognizes the gap never has been more narrow, and that Singh is not letting up. If the Fijian continues to play better, he will overtake Woods after the U.S. Open.

Even Woods conceded Wednesday that his top ranking was vulnerable.

"It's a fact I won't be No. 1 forever," Woods said. "Either someone flat-out outplays me, or I might not play at the same level, or old age takes over."

It's probably a combination of all three, although Woods certainly is nowhere close to Social Security at the ripe age of 28, and Singh looks, plays and feels much younger than his 41 years.

What the world order in golf might look like a year from now -- even a month from now -- also is hard to predict.

A year ago, Woods had such a commanding lead in the world ranking, the points between No. 1 and No. 2 equaled the points between No. 2 and No. 126. Now, the difference is the about the same as No. 2 to No. 5.

A lot of that is because of Singh, who has been relentless.

Coming off a season in which he ended Woods' four-year reign atop the PGA Tour money list, Singh is coming off back-to-back victories in Houston and New Orleans.

"He certainly should get all the respect in the world because he's worked his game to a level where he's consistent and he's able to pretty much contend in every tournament he plays in -- and that's a lot," Woods said.

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