This week at Doral, Adam Scott can achieve his childhood ambition of being the world’s best male golfer whether the current No. 1, Tiger Woods, plays or not.
With a win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the reigning Masters champion would ascend to the top ranking if Woods -- currently nursing a bad back -- defaulted or finished somewhere around the middle of the top 10, according to Golf Channel’s world-rankings expert Alan Robison.
#1 will be up for grabs next week at Doral ... Adam Scott can take over the top spot in the world— Alan Robison (@GolfARob) March 3, 2014
Adam would need to win next week and Tiger finish outside the top 6 (early guess) to become #1 after WGC-Cadillac— Alan Robison (@GolfARob) March 3, 2014
Only a win at Doral would give Adam Scott a chance to become #1 in OWGR— Alan Robison (@GolfARob) March 3, 2014
You don’t need a degree in advanced calculus to decipher the mathematical scenarios whereby Scott would overtake Woods, though it wouldn’t hurt. Instead, let GolfChannel.com’s Ryan Lavner do the math.
On more mundane terms, the last time Woods, who has been atop the world rankings since late March, lost his throne (to Lee Westwood in late 2010), it sparked a free fall down the rankings ladder to the 58th spot. He seemed to cement his position for the foreseeable future with a five-win 2013 season, but Woods’ fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the worse since Zach Johnson beat him in a playoff at the World Challenge and the 79-time tour winner turned 38 in December.
In the intervening months, the injury-prone victor of 14 major championships has taken a lengthy break to rest a bad back that he said he injured last summer, missed his first-ever 54-hole cut at Torrey Pines where he has eight wins, finished a listless T41 in Dubai on a course he has conquered twice, and withdrawn from last week’s Honda Classic when his pesky back went into spasm again.
Should he make it back to the course in time to defend his 2013 title, Woods will be playing a different track than the one on which he has rung up four Ws. With a scheduled Tuesday practice round cancelled, according to Bob Harig, and a Tuesday press conference pushed back to Wednesday (presumably to give himself more time to heal), it would appear Tiger will have no time to navigate around Donald Trump’s revamped Blue Monster before kickoff.
Scott, on the other hand, is trending in the other direction. His T12 last week at PGA National was the lowest finish he has recorded since a T14 at the Tour Championship in September. In between, he came up just shy of winning the Australian triple crown, when he lost the Aussie Open by one stroke to Rory McIlroy, and finished no worse than T8 (Sony Open) in the three PGA Tour events he has played in the 2013-2014 wrap-around season.
For the 33-year-old from Adelaide, who finished T3 last year at the old Doral, moving to the top of the pecking order would be a first as well as the fulfillment of a nearly life-long aspiration.
"It's been a dream of mine, like it's a dream of every other kid's to be number one and I'm as close as I've ever been. I'm not going to stop dreaming of it just because Tiger Woods holds the No. 1 spot," Scott said in November. "But we all know how difficult it is to surpass him; only a few people have done it in the last 15 years and I've got my work cut out for me the whole of next year in trying to do that."
Or, perhaps, the whole of two months.