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Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 17:37 UK

English trio eye Woods's ranking

PGA Championship
Venue: Wentworth Club Date: 20-23 May Coverage: Thursday and Friday: Live coverage Sky Sports 1 and highlights on BBC Two and 10 minutes daily highlights on BBC Sport website (UK only) after end of play. Saturday and Sunday: Live coverage on BBC TV Full details of BBC coverage


World number one Tiger Woods is being tailed by golf's chasing pack
World number one Tiger Woods is being tailed by golf's chasing pack

England's leading golfers Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey believe that Tiger Woods's 258-week run as world number one could soon come to an end.

Woods's lead at the top of the rankings has shrunk because he took a five-month break following a sex scandal and then struggled for form on his return.

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

The trio play in the PGA Championship, starting on Thursday at Wentworth.

"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. I include myself in that bracket," added Poulter.

Based on the performances we have seen from Tiger I would agree the number one spot is up for grabs

Paul Casey

Westwood, who is now the world number three, said: "The world rankings are about consistency and number one and number two are more achievable than they have been in recent years."

Woods missed the cut by eight in his penultimate event and then pulled out of the final round of the Players Championship with a neck strain when he was outside the top 50.

The 34-year-old's swing coach Hank Haney has quit his role and the 14-time major winner is not expected to return to golf until the US Open in June.

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

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

Paul Casey

Highlights - Casey wins 2009 PGA Championship

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

"The tournaments that are coming up in the next couple of months hold huge world ranking points," continued Poulter.

"If you can win tournaments like this [Wentworth] and with the Open coming up, as well as 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," added 34-year old Poulter.

Poulter also confirmed he would be fit to play at Wentworth after suffering from a bad neck at the start of the week.

The Englishman said: "I had to have some treatment on Monday but we should be good for the week."

There has been controversy about the changes that have been made to the iconic West Course at Wentworth, with defending champion Casey even suggesting the course should have protected status.

IAIN CARTER'S BLOG

"Maybe we should introduce some kind of scheme along the lines of that which we have with historic buildings in this country," said Casey.

The Surrey course has been extensively remodelled according to recommendations made by three-time major winner and local resident Ernie Els.

In all, 17 of the 18 holes have been significantly altered, with the 18th undergoing the most radical revamp, and the course now plays as a reduced par 71.

"Look at Ernie's beautiful house by the 16th hole with his thatched roof and superb plaster work," continued Casey.

"He owns it but that doesn't give him the right to paint it pink and stick a tin roof on it.

"If you are the owner of a golf course does that give you the right to make the change you want?

"Maybe we should have a system that goes through the R&A, along the lines of listing golf courses," added the 32-year-old.

Els, the world number seven, is aware his changes might not be popular with everybody but says the course needed to be refreshed.

"I am in the hotseat," admitted the 40-year-old South African.

"I am the guy they guys can fire at if they don't like the changes.

"But this is our fifth major over here in Europe and it needs to have a bit of teeth.

"Players will have a little bit of a shock for a while, but they will find a way to score around here."

World number nine Rory McIlroy is also playing in the event, along with Martin Kaymer and Padraig Harrington, ranked 11th and 13th in the world respectively.

Harrington will be playing his final event before having surgery on his knee, but hopes to be fit to make the US Open.



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see also
Woods prepared for rankings blow
05 May 10 |  Golf
Westwood up to third in rankings
17 May 10 |  Golf
Woods poised to play in the Open
18 May 10 |  Golf
Poulter to make Wentworth return
26 Apr 10 |  Golf
McIlroy happy with US Tour move
19 May 10 |  Golf
Harrington will miss Wales Open
18 May 10 |  Golf
Rose relaxed over Ryder Cup place
18 May 10 |  Golf
Goosen withdraws from Wentworth
18 May 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf


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