Tiger can be tamed, say England's leading golfers

Tiger Woods (AFP file)

WENTWORTH (AFP) – Tiger Woods is more vulnerable at the top of the world rankings than at any other time, according to England's trio of leading golfers.

Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, all at Wentworth ahead of the start of the European PGA Championship on Thursday, believe Woods' lengthy reign at the top could soon be over.

Woods has been world number one for 600 weeks in total in his career, and for the last 258 weeks, but off-the-course scandal saw the American take a five-month break from the game that ended at The Masters in April.

Woods' withdrawal from the Players' Championship at Sawgrass recently and a missed cut at Quail Hollow have seen his lead at the top of the rankings diminish.

He is only 1.2 points ahead of Masters champion Phil Mickelson in the rankings, with Westwood third a further 1.8 points behind.

World number six Poulter said: "It is closer now than it ever was because of the points that Tiger has dropped over the last 12 months.

"I can see anybody in the top 10 in the world getting there if they play great for a spell of three or four months and have a couple of wins and a couple of big finishes to get to the points Tiger is at now. I include myself in that bracket.

"It hasn't happened before because he has been so far out in front and he has won so many tournaments it is hard to claw any ground back.

"But now the gap has closed so much and the guys who have won late last year and this year are the guys that have already been in the top 15 in the world.

"The tournaments that are coming up in the next couple of months hold huge World Ranking points.

"If you can win tournaments like this and with The Open coming up, The US Open both with 100 ranking points - that's huge. If you can knock one of those over you are going to be climbing the board pretty quickly."

Westwood, who moved up to number three in the world on Monday having come second at the Masters and the Players Championship, added: "Tiger's performance and schedule are unpredictable at the moment.

"Phil is a world-class player and has already won a major this year. The World Rankings are about consistency and number one and number two are more achievable than they have been in recent years."

Casey, world number eight and defending champion at Wentworth this week, said: "Based on the performances we have seen from Tiger I would agree the number one spot is up for grabs.

"If Phil continues to put in performances like he put in at Augusta and if Lee puts in performances like we have seen over the last six months then both guys are in with a shot.

"I was surprised about Quail Hollow and the Players' Championship. I don't know what's going on with Tiger there."

Meanwhile, Poulter confirmed he would be fit to play in the PGA Championship after suffering from a bad neck at the start of the week.

Ahead of his practice round the Englishman said: "I had to have some treatment on Monday but we should be good for the week."

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