Phil Mickelson faces the possibility of claiming the world number one spot from Tiger Woods as the tension builds ahead of the US Masters next month.  

The gap between the two has gone down to only 0.2 points in recent weeks, after Mickelson finished a shot clear of Nick Watney at the WGC CA Championship.

Woods needs a second place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill this week to avoid giving Mickelson the chance to move into the top spot ahead of the Masters, and losing his 198-week reign.

Mickelson, who is not in action this week, would have a chance to leapfrog Woods at next week’s Houston Open.

If he were to do so it would be his first visit to the summit of the world rankings. Woods, who goes in search of his 15th Major at Augusta next month, has spent a total of 540 weeks at the top over the course of his career.   

Earlier this year Tiger Woods’  caddie Steve Williams launched a verbal attack on rival Mickelson, which promises to add even more edge when the pair compete in the US Masters starting April 9.   

Where next?

Gallery: Rivals Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in pictures
News: Butch Harmon labels Williams’ comments “deplorable”
Competition: Win a prize in this week’s quiz

More US Masters on Golf Monthly

Latest US Masters news
Augusta Masters hole-by-hole guide
Wilson Staff kit the best: Gene Sarazen and Padraig Harrington
US Masters history
Augusta Blog

US Masters pictures
The English Contingent at the US Masters at Augusta 2009
US Masters 2009 – The Contenders