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Lee Westwood deserves number one ranking - Greg Norman

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood holes 30-foot putt at Ryder Cup (UK users only)

Former world number one Greg Norman has rejected suggestions that Lee Westwood is not a worthy world number one.

The Englishman, who ended 14-time major winner Tiger Woods's 281-week reign at the top of the rankings on Sunday, has yet to win a major title.

"It doesn't make any difference," said the 55-year-old Australian.

"He's been a consistent performer and Tiger hasn't won a tournament in a year - does that make him worthy of the number one title?"

Norman added: "It's fantastic. It's a great change and it's a change for global golf.

"No disrespect to Tiger. He's fired up to come back. He's been through a tough time and his golf has gone through a tough time and you can't stay number one forever."

Westwood, who has had 32 professional wins, including 20 on the European Tour, finished second in this year's Masters and Open Championships, and has been third in the other two majors, the US Open and US PGA Championship.

He becomes only the fourth golfer not to have won a major to become world number one and is also the 13th player to be number one since the ranking system began in 1986.

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His only victory this season came in a sudden-death play-off at the St Jude Classic in June.

Six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo, the last European to be world number one, said: "It's interesting how times have changed, where you can get to world number one without winning a major.

"I'd won four majors before I got to world number one and the fifth major probably helped. It's nice, but majors are obviously the one because you've got to go and win them, you have to finish them off."

Faldo, world number one between 1990 and 1994, believes American Woods has considerable work to do if he is to regain the number one spot and capture the five majors he needs to eclipse the record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus.

"For a while Tiger didn't even have a game to get him in contention on a Sunday," Faldo said.

"That will be his next goal - to have the game to get himself in contention on a Sunday afternoon. Then we'll see how strong he is again. I think he's got to dig deep to find his game and (we'll see) how he reacts on a Sunday."

Woods has faltered badly over the past 12 months after a knee injury and revelations about his personal life that saw him take an extended break from the game.

But Woods has a chance to regain top spot at the WGC-HSBC Golf championships in Shanghai.

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie insisted Westwood deserved the top ranking, but warned it would be difficult to hold on to the top spot.

"Once you are number one you want to stay there, and you've got to improve because the standard behind you is improving," he said.

"It might be the end of Tiger's reign for a limited period, but I don't think he will be very happy about being two or three in the world."

Westwood's career has been in two phases, he spent 180 weeks in the top-10 between 1998 and 2001, winning the Order of Merit in 2000 and reaching world number four.

Most weeks at world number one
Tiger Woods (USA) 623 weeks
Greg Norman (AUS) 331 weeks
Nick Faldo (ENG) 98 weeks
Seve Ballesteros (ESP) 61 weeks
Ian Woosnam (WAL) 50 weeks
Nick Price (ZIM) 44 weeks
Vijay Singh (FIJ) 32 weeks
Fred Couples (USA) 16 weeks
David Duval (USA) 15 weeks
Ernie Els (SA) 9 weeks
Bernhard Langer (GER) 3 weeks
Tom Lehman (USA) 1 week

But he took a break from the game after the birth of his first child and rather lost his way, dropping outside the top 250 in the rankings.

However in 2007 he moved back into the top 50 and by the end of the 2008 season he was back in the top 10.

Ideally he would have wanted to take the top spot on the course, but the vagaries of the rolling two-year system operated by the world rankings meant he did not have to wait until then.

Speaking before moving top of the rankings, Westwood said: "I'll take it any way.

"I've had a great year up until getting injured. Look at all of the world ranking points I've won - I was leading that by a mile before I got my injury.

"Being number one is something I've always dreamed of."



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