Westwood wants to stay No. 1 | NevadaAppeal.com

Westwood wants to stay No. 1

Associated Press

SHANGHAI (AP) – Lee Westwood spent his career trying to be No. 1. The way he played Thursday in the HSBC Champions, it doesn’t look as though he wants to give up his prized ranking after just one week.

Even as Francesco Molinari of Italy made a charge to a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead, the focus in the final World Golf Championship of the year quickly shifted to what could be a prolonged battle for No. 1.

In his debut as the top-ranked player, Westwood birdied some of the toughest holes at Sheshan International and showed hardly any signs of rust from playing in his second stroke-play tournament in three months. He finished with consecutive birdies for a 66.

Two shots behind Westwood was Tiger Woods, without his No. 1 ranking for the first time in more than five years. Woods made a most improbable par from behind the bushes with a 4-iron he had to aim away from loose tree roots, which proved more satisfying than the three straight birdies that sent him to a 68.

Not to be forgotten is the defending champion, fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson, who rallied for a 69. PGA champion Martin Kaymer, the No. 3 player, opened with a 72.

Any of those four could go to No. 1 this week at the HSBC Champions, and it could just be getting started.

Henrik Stenson, Yuta Ikeda and Seung-yul Noh shot 67s, and Luke Donald and Pablo Martin matched Woods at 68.