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Golf's No.1 spot up for grabs again

Should Luke Donald win the Heritage today, he will become the No. 1 golfer in the world.

Wrap your 8-iron around that one for a moment.

That would make Donald the third No. 1 - Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer preceded him - since Tiger Woods surrendered the throne he seemingly held since the invention of cell phones. What once was a closed shop, its entryway nailed shut by Woods, is now a revolving door.

Should Donald not win and Westwood hold on to win in Indonesia, the former No. 1 will be No. 1 again.

The only guy who can't figure out how to get to the top is Phil Mickelson, who deserves an Irving J. Thalberg lifetime achievement No. 1 if nothing else.

I'm not big on the rankings, but after all those weeks and years of Tiger at the top - 623 weeks in all - it's different to see players trading it back and forth. It feels special to be No. 1 again.

It's like Boise State would feel if it ever got to No. 1.

That's not to say it wasn't special when Tiger had it, but he was No. 1 for so long it got, well, boring. Think about 623 weeks - that's almost 12 years worth of weeks. Only '60 Minutes' had a longer run.

Consider it this way: In the 1,307 weeks the Official World Golf Ranking has been in existence, Woods has been No. 1 for nearly half of that time.

Take him out of the equation - I know, that's silly but indulge me - and how many of the remaining 684 weeks has an U.S.-born player been ranked No. 1?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The answer is 32 weeks (as in Fred Couples for 16 weeks, David Duval 15 weeks and Tom Lehman for one sweet week).

So let's not go off on the what's happened to American golf discussion right now. There's time for that later, after we finish counting all the different flags among the top 10 at the Masters two weeks ago.

What's interesting is how the No. 1 spot is now getting traded like bad stock, but don't ask me to explain how the rankings work other than to say they're based on a rolling two-year period. The Bowl Championship Series formula is easier to figure out.

Until recently, it was easy to know who the No.1 player in the world was. He wore a swoosh, a red shirt on Sunday and a killer putting stroke. This week, Tiger checks in at No. 6.

It's made for good discussion. After all the Tiger years, the picture has changed.

The players will say they don't pay much attention to the rankings and that's probably right. But when they have a chance to be No. 1, they know. It's a big deal.

Think Tom Lehman doesn't like knowing he was No. 1, even if it was for just one week?

By tonight, Luke Donald could be No. 1.

It will come with two questions:

For how long and who's next?