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Golf Tidbits: Who's No. 1? Who Cares!

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Every golfer strives to be the No. 1 player in the world. But what happens when they get there?

Nothing.

Does the No. 1 player get special treatment compared to say the fourth-ranked player in the world? Doubtful.

The rankings are needed for things like setting fields at majors and World Golf Championship events. That doesn't mean we should care who the top-ranked player is.

Mathematically, Lee Westwood will replace Tiger Woods as the No. 1 player atop the men's world golf rankings on Halloween.

Is this news? Sure. Does it mean Westwood is a better player because owns the top spot in the rankings? Not at all.

Westwood is a world-class player, much like Woods. Does he deserve to be in the conversation of best players in the world? You're damn straight he does.

Come Dec. 31, 2010, which golfer will be atop the rankings is anyone's guess. Who that person might be doesn't affect how I view any of these golfers.

Woods has dominated the top spot in the world for years, owning the No. 1 position for 621 weeks throughout his career, and his current run atop the rankings will reach 281 consecutive weeks before Westwood inches past him.

But has Woods been the best player in the world since last Thanksgiving's notorious traffic accident? No chance.

Who has been? Pick one among Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Jim Furyk or Rory McIlroy. At any point in the last 10 months, one of those players could have been considered the best golfer in the world, but the rankings did not reflect that.

It isn't just the men's game where the top spot has been in question this year. Four different women have topped the Women's World Golf Rankings.

Lorena Ochoa was No. 1 to start the year, but retired. Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr and Jiyai Shin have reached the top spot since Ochoa's retirement. Miyazato currently owns the top spot, thanks in part to her five wins this year.

The women's rankings haven't been around nearly as long as the men's, Feb. 2006 compared to Apr. 1986, but maybe their rankings are more accurate than the men's with the hotter player reaching the top spot at the right times.

That being said, even the women's rankings have flaws. Yani Tseng has won two majors this year (Kraft Nabisco & Women's British), and in doing so, became the youngest female golfer in the modern era to own three major championship titles. She also won the 2008 LPGA Championship, yet she has not reached the top spot in the rankings.

The No. 1 spot in the world is a great talking point. Does it change how we view a certain player? Nope.

And why should it? There have been thousands of golfers listed in the men's and women's world rankings. Exactly 17 have reached the top spot - 12 men and five women.

Were each of the 17 all-world players? Yep. Were all 17 world golf hall of famers? Most, but it is too early to tell for a couple of the women.

Tournament directors care who is No. 1 because it helps them market their events. Me? I know who the best players are, and don't need some crazy mathematical formula to tell me who No. 1 is.

BILL HAAS ENJOYING A BREAKOUT SEASON

The pedigree has always been there for Bill Haas. His father, Jay, has won 23 times combined on the PGA and Champions Tours.

His uncle, Jerry, played on the PGA, Nationwide and Champions Tours. Jerry was a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour and is currently the head golf coach at Wake Forest University.

If that wasn't enough, Bill's great uncle is 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby.

Bill is carrying on the family tradition by enjoying a breakout season. He claimed his first PGA Tour win earlier this year at the Bob Hope Classic and notched No. 2 two weeks ago.

The 28-year-old followed up his second victory with a second-place finish last week. He has missed seven cuts in 2010, but this is clearly his best season on the PGA Tour.

Haas has risen to 18th on the money list, which is by far his highest rank on that list. Last year, Haas ended 61st on the money list for his best previous finish.

If he keeps playing the way he has this season, Haas could earn a spot on the 2011 U.S. Presidents Cup team.

That would mark his first appearance as a pro on a national team. He did represent the U.S. as an amateur at the 2003 Walker Cup, a year before winning the Ben Hogan Award, golf's national collegiate player of the year award.

He hasn't been talked about as much as Sean O'Hair or Dustin Johnson, but Haas clearly has the game to match his fellow 20-somethings.

MINI-TIDBITS

-- The European Tour has made it harder for players to be members of its tour, and the PGA Tour as well, by upping its membership requirement from 12 to 13 tournaments. This is the second straight year the tour has increased its minimum number of events for full membership.

-- With three official PGA Tour events left, there are several big names outside the top-125 on the money list, which is the cutoff for keeping their tour card for next year. Among the bigger names are nine players that have combined for more than 25 wins and six major championships -- Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen, Mike Weir, Steve Flesch, Chris DiMarco, Tim Herron, Rocco Mediate, John Daly and Rich Beem.

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

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