Who is the ultimate No. 1? Ranking golf’s short list of top dogs

by Alan Shipnuck

Dustin Johnson’s ascension to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking in February means that 20 men have now reached that lofty perch since the list was birthed in 1986. It’s too early to say what kind of reign DJ will enjoy (although his win at the WGC-Mexico City in his first start as No. 1 portends nicely). But here’s my highly subjective countdown of the game’s other 19 top dogs. Note that this is only a ranking of their tenure at No. 1, not their complete careers.

19. TOM LEHMAN (TOTAL WEEKS AT NO. 1: 1)

Is it better to have reached the summit for one brief moment or to have never peaked at all? That’s for philosophers, not sportswriters, to decide. Lehman’s 1997 cameo is a metaphor for the parity of the post-Faldo, pre-Tiger years.

18. BERNHARD LANGER (TOTAL WEEKS AT NO. 1: 3)

Langer enjoys the distinction of being the first No. 1 when the ranking debuted, but he never made it back to the top despite a long, consistent career.

17. MARTIN KAYMER (TOTAL WEEKS AT NO. 1: 8)

Interestingly, Kaymer’s brief stay at the top came more than three years before his runaway win at Pinehurst, in the 2014 U.S. Open.

16. LEE WESTWOOD (TOTAL WEEKS AT NO. 1: 22)

Westwood is one of only two No. 1s to have never won a major. His rather forgettable tenure at the top is fitting for a player who has been very good—but never quite great.

 

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