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Golf Tidbits: Is Sergio the next No. 1?

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Can you believe it has been 10 long years since a young up-and-coming Sergio Garcia burst onto the scene at the 1999 PGA Championship?

Garcia nearly ran down eventual winner Tiger Woods to earn his first major at the age of 19. Of course, we all know that didn't happen.

A decade later, the Spaniard is still looking for his first major championship win, while Woods will go for No. 15 at Augusta in a few weeks.

Garcia and Woods have battled through the years in other tournaments, but now they are in a battle many thought would have happened years ago.

Thanks in part to his knee injury last year, Woods' lead atop the world rankings has dwindled to the point that Garcia could pass him this week as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

For that to happen, Garcia would need to win the WGC-CA Championship and Woods would have to finish 27th or worse.

Good luck with that! In nine starts at this event, Woods has won the title six times and his worst finish was in 2004, when he finished ninth.

As for Garcia, he has twice shared third place in this event but has never won. His worst finish was a share of 32nd in 2006.

If Garcia were to pass Woods this week, their results at Doral would need to be reversed.

That being said, it has been a steady climb up the rankings for Garcia. He finished the 2007 season ranked 12th in the world.

Last year, the 29-year-old won the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, finished second in three other events and posted six top-10s in 19 starts. He also posted four top-10s and a win on the European Tour.

Combining his results from the two tours, Garcia finished outside the top five just once in his final seven events.

"No. 2 player in the world came at me last year just by playing well, being consistent and believing in my own ability," Garcia said earlier this week. "If I manage to do that, and that gets me to No. 1, that would be perfect. If not, that means there's someone better than me, and I can't control that."

Garcia's strong play continued at the start of the '09 campaign, as he won the season-opening HSBC Champions in a playoff by coming up with a birdie on the second extra hole to fend off Ryder Cup teammate Oliver Wilson. That event featured six of the top eight players in the world.

Since last year's PGA Championship, Garcia's worst event was the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, where he lost in the first round.

With both players' history at this week's event, it is unlikely Garcia will pass Woods when the new rankings are posted next Monday.

Year in and year out, Garcia does play more events than Woods, so a changing of the guard could come soon. But the battle for the top spot started a lot later than most thought it would.

COMPTON'S HEART-WARMING STORY CONTINUES

If you watched the Honda Classic last week, no doubt you saw plenty of coverage of Erik Compton.

Compton's story has been well documented. He has twice needed heart transplants to survive. He underwent the second last year and was able to compete in the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic on a sponsors invite.

After failing to earn his PGA Tour card at Q-School last fall, Compton is again at the mercy of tournament organizers looking to fill the last few spots at their events.

Compton made his first PGA Tour start of the year last week at the Honda and finished in a tie for 44th. He will again compete this week in the Puerto Rico Open.

Despite having a dispensation from the PGA Tour, Compton walked all four rounds at PGA National last week. This week, he will be playing a composite course at Trump International.

Speaking from experience, he better hope that only a few holes from the Mountain nine are in use. There are four nines at Trump, and I was lucky enough to play two of them a few years ago.

I don't believe I have played any other course that hosts a PGA Tour event, so I can't speak for them. However, I know the Mountain nine lives up to its name, with plenty of steep hills. Compton may want to take the tour up on that cart this week.

His comeback from a second heart transplant has been inspirational, even though the results on the course may tell a different story.

MINI-TIDBITS

- When he failed to qualify for the Masters last year, Davis Love III had his streak of 70 consecutive majors snapped. He currently stands 50th in the world and needs to stay there or improve his ranking in order to get back to Augusta this year. The top 50 players in the world, if not already eligible, get invited to the Masters after this week's WGC-CA Championship.

- The Presidents Cup is slated for Harding Park in San Francisco the second weekend in October. According to a recent story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the course is far from ready at this point, as recent rain has created muddy fairways and bumpy greens. Two-time U.S. Presidents Cup player Chris DiMarco was quoted in the article as saying, "They've got a lot of work to do. When we played, it was not in good shape."

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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