PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Here’s a suggestion for how Adam Scott should spend Sunday afternoon in the Bahamas.
Go out to the practice green and throw a ball down about 10 feet from the cup, maybe longer if he wants to add some drama. And then whisper to himself, as so many young golfers have done over the years, with one minor change in the wording.
“This putt to go to No. 1 in the world.”
This is the official nightmare of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Scott had four mathematical chances over the last two months to replace Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world. His best chance was to win at Bay Hill, only he couldn’t hold a seven-shot lead on the weekend. His most recent opportunity was The Players Championship, where he would have needed a 68 on Sunday. He closed with a 73.
And now that he has a week off, Scott will go to No. 1.
It won’t be official until next week, but here’s what we know. Woods keeps losing points without being able to replace them because he is recovering from back surgery and has not played a tournament in more than two months. Scott will move past Woods this week, and the field at the Byron Nelson Championship is not strong enough that Matt Kuchar could surpass them even if he were to win.
Is it awkward? Sure.
Unprecedented? Not even close.
Of the 17 players who reached No. 1 for the first time, Scott will be the fifth who did not play that week. The list includes Bernhard Langer, who was No. 1 in the inaugural world ranking on April 6, 1986.
This will be the 57th change at the top, and the 13th time that a new No. 1 didn’t play the week before he got there. That includes Woods — twice.
Faldo won the Masters and British Open, and tied for third in the U.S. Open in 1990. He still didn’t get to No. 1, back when the formula was different and the ranking moved at the speed of Kevin Na. Faldo injured his wrist at the PGA Championship, where he shot 80 in the third round and tied for 19th. He took off three weeks to let it heal, and when he showed up at the European Open, he was No. 1.
And don’t forget about Westwood. He completed only two tournaments in a three-month stretch in 2010 because of a calf injury. Coming off the Ryder Cup, he took off three weeks and went to No. 1 while watching TV at home in England.