Tiger Woods' grip on the world No. 1 golf ranking has been in jeopardy for months. At both the U.S. and British Opens, Phil Mickelson could have passed Woods if Lefty had managed to win either of those events, coupled with a sub-par outing from Woods. But as Tiger's struggles have mounted as the season has gone along, the threshold for Mickelson (and one other) to leapfrog him has lowered, to the point that Woods is unlikely to hold onto the spot after the 2010 Bridgestone Invitational.
Going into the Bridgestone Invitational -- an event Woods has utterly dominated, winning seven out of ten starts at Firestone -- two golfers had a realistic shot of passing Woods: Mickelson and Lee Westwood. Lefty needed a top-four finish, paired with Woods not finishing in the top-37; while Westwood would have claimed the spot if he finished at least second, Mickelson did not win, and Woods placed outside of the top nine.
Tiger's implosion through the first two rounds at the Bridgestone has certainly opened the door for him to lose the top ranking. Unfortunately for Westwood, he's been even worse, shooting a 7-over to Woods' 6-over through the halfway mark of the tourney, placing them 74th and 76th respectively. Mickelson, however, is poised to knock off Woods. After a 4-under round on Thursday put him in second place, Mickelson has maintained his position on Friday. Mickelson is 2-under at the turn on his second round, which has kept him in a tie for second place at 6-under overall, a shot behind leader Retief Goosen. If Mickelson can maintain this spot during the weekend, the world No. 1 spot will likely be his.
Woods refused to speak to reporters after his disappointing second round. Lee Westwood for his part told reporters:
Neither one of us played very well, did we? We are human. We all have bad days. What can you do? Cry?
Woods has held the No. 1 spot for 270 weeks; he last lost it to Vijay Singh in 2005. Mickelson, meanwhile, has never been ranked No. 1 at any point in his career.