Lee Westwood spent his career trying to be No. 1. The way he played Thursday in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, 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 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.
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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.
Defending champion John Cook shot a 7-under 64 at Harding Park in San Francisco to take the first-round lead in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Cook, the winner last year at Sonoma Golf Club, had a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk and Tom Pernice Jr.
Tom Lehman opened with a 66, Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer topped a group at 67, and Fred Couples had a 69. Couples needs to win to catch Langer in the two-man race for the $1 million annuity.