If he doesn’t finish ahead of Woods or Kaymer _ and possibly Mickelson _ he most likely won’t be No. 1 by the end of the week. That wouldn’t be such a disgrace. The first time Woods reached No. 1, he lasted only one week.
Kaymer had a chance last week if he had finished among the top two in Spain, but he tied for 21st. What makes the German stand out are his victories this year. He not only won the PGA Championship in a playoff at Whistling Straits but had three other titles on the European Tour, making him the most prolific winner this year.
He also leads the European Tour’s money list and has a chance to become the first German to win the Order of Merit since Bernhard Langer in 1984, a few months before Kaymer was born.
“I think Tiger, the last 10 years or last 12 years, he’s the No. 1 in the world,” Kaymer said. “I think in everybody’s head, he’s still the best player in the world. Of course, he’s playing not so good at the moment. When people say I’m playing like the No. 1 in the world at the moment, it’s nice to hear. But officially, Lee Westwood is the No. 1.”
It can be tough to keep track, although it ultimately comes down to great golf.
The rough is thick again at Sheshan International, and the greens are relatively firm from a recent cold spell in Shanghai. And while there is so much emphasis on the current version of the “Big Four,” the field is strong as ever, typical of a world championship.
It features 16 of the top 20 in the world, with all the absentees being Americans who choose not to play or travel this time of the year _ Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson.
Mickelson has won the HSBC Champions twice in the last three years. He finally is fully healthy for the first time since he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. And despite failing to get to No. 1 over the last six months, he is still in the mix.
“I would love to accomplish that, but the only way to do that is play good golf,” Mickelson said. “And the only way to do that is to not worry about it and try to make some birdies. This is a tournament that has a lot of world ranking points, one of the strongest fields in golf, on a course that I’ve played well on in the past. I feel like I can put together a good week here and compete for the title.”
(This version CORRECTS Corrects to 16 of the top 20 in the world at tournament to reflect Oosthuizen in the field.)