November 1, 2010 7:00 PM ET
Since there's no trophy for being the world's number-one, Lee Westwood chooses to show some love to the Ryder Cup.
It's pretty tough to become number one in any major sport these days. It's even harder to stay there once you do (just ask any of the top teams in this year's BCS standings). From June 9 of 2005 to well over five years later, however, Tiger Woods has been the top-ranked PGA golf player in the world. That streak came to an end yesterday when Ryder Cup hero Lee Westwood capped off a seven-year comeback from being ranked 266 and replaced Tiger from his perch.
To put it in perspective, Woods was numero uno for a jaw-dropping 1,970 days. Now, with all due respect to Westwood, we don't really think he's going to match Tiger's streak. After all, streaks like that don't come along every day. Here's a look at other incredible streaks in the world of professional competition:
Joe Louis (Heavyweight Boxer)
Louis was heavyweight champion for almost 12 years, spanning from June of 1937 through his retirement on March 1, 1949, making him one of the greatest, most famous boxers of all time. Then again, you don't get an arena named after you for being mediocre. Strangely enough, there isn't a Muhammad Ali Arena.
Roger Federer (Tennis)
Tiger Woods has a best friend, who also dominated his respective sport as No. 1 for an incredibly long time. That BFF, of course, is tennis great Roger Federer, who had been ranked atop the tennis world for 285 weeks in his career. Of those 285, Fed was No. 1 for 237 consecutive weeks or four and a half years. That's over 30 in dog years.
Garry Kasparov (World Chess Champion)
He's considered the greatest chess player in history, and with good reason. In 1985, at age 22, Kasparov became world chess champion and would stay there until 1993. He would have extended his streak even longer had it not been for a dispute with FIDE (World Chess Federation), which caused him to leave and start a new organization, the Professional Chess Association. In 1997, Kasparov would play and lose against a computer named Deep Blue, which, in turn, retired immediately upon winning and invented Sudoku. Okay, so it was dismantled, but that seems a tad brutal for such bright artificial intelligence.
And so, after a five-year golfing dynasty (the longest professional sports streak in what seems like forever), the PGA has a new World Golf No.1 in Lee Westwood. We welcome you, Mr. Westwood, and tip our cap to you, Mr. Woods. And, yes, you can pick your jaw up off the ground.