Approximately one year ago, and golf’s World No.1 player Tiger Woods doesn’t look like being caught for at least a decade or so – but things have changed and Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington have closed the gap.

Woods has not played since his remarkable US Open victory at Torrey Pines in June due to a serious knee injury, and his once huge lead has been whittled down to under 3 points.

Non-Major winner Garcia is the man who is Tiger’s closest challenger, followed by triple-Major winner. It is now realistic that a European may unseat Woods from his No.1 throne.

This would not be the first time that Woods has lost the top spot. Vijay Singh was consistently doing it between September 2004 and June 2005. But Woods has been at the summit since June 12th 2005 and that was some 190 weeks ago. It is the second longest streak since Singh ended his huge 264-week run from 1999 to 2004.

Golf Monthly Forum: Will Woods lose his No.1 spot?

With Woods’ return unclear, some saying he will not make the Masters in April, while others saying he will be back for the WGC tournament in Arizona at the end of February, it could be close to see if Garcia or Harrington can overhaul Tiger and snatch his crown before his comeback.

World Rankings 25 January 2009

1 Tiger Woods United States 10.755
2 Sergio Garcia Spain 7.954
3 Padraig Harrington Ireland 6.675
4 Phil Mickelson United States 6.671
5 Vijay Singh Fiji 6.408
6 Geoff Ogilvy Australia 5.077
7 Henrik Stenson Sweden 4.933
8 Robert Karlsson Sweden 4.933
9 Anthony Kim United States 4.779
10 Camilo Villegas Colombia 4.695

World Rankings 27 January 2008

1 Tiger Woods United States 19.554
2 Phil Mickelson United States 8.530
3 Steve Stricker United States 6.722
4 Adam Scott Australia 6.186
5 Ernie Els South Africa 6.179
6 Jim Furyk United States 6.126
7 Justin Rose England 5.921
8 K.J. Choi Korea 5.727
9 Rory Sabbatini South Africa 5.679
10 Padraig Harrington Ireland 5.170

12 Sergio Garcia Spain 4.753

Where next?

Harrington reveals tension with Garcia
Woods spares caddie the sack