5 things: Who's No. 1?

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Gather around the water cooler and join in the debate. It sure didn’t look like Tiger Woods, who finished T-78 at 18 over – good enough to beat one player (Henrik Stenson) in the limited-field WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Yet, Woods held on to the top spot of the Official World Golf Ranking for the 270th straight week when Phil Mickelson folded in the final round. All Philly Mick needed to do was finish fourth or better and he finally would have surpassed Woods. Alas, he shot 78, finished T-46, and heads to the PGA Championship still looking to cross No. 1 off his bucket list.

 It could’ve been Lee Westwood. But he shot 71-76 and withdrew from the no-cut event due to a calf injury that has been bothering him since before the British Open, where he finished runner-up.

“It’s not improving,” Westwood said. “If anything, it’s getting worse.”

Not only did he miss out on a chance to improve to World No. 1, but Westwood later announced he will skip the PGA Championship. Just like that, his pursuit of his first major title will have to wait until at least April. 

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Katsumasa Miyamoto

Talk about springing a surprise. Possibly the least-known player in the elite WGC-Bridgestone Invitational field, Katsumasa Miyamoto, enjoyed a Saturday cameo that earned him more column inches in his native Japan than the performance of teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa – a sure sign that you’ve achieved something special. Miyamoto’s 62 came as a bolt from the blue on what was the 37-year-old’s debut in a World Golf Championship event and his first appearance in the United States since the 2002 Buick Invitational, where he missed the cut.

The irony was not lost on the Japanese media that while Miyamoto was stealing the spotlight at Firestone having qualified by virtue of his win in June’s Japan Tour Championship, Hiroyuki Fujita, the moneyleader in Japan, warmed up for this week’s PGA Championship by missing the cut at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

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Patcharajutar Kongkraphan

Here’s a name to remember: Patcharajutar Kongkraphan. The 18-year-old rookie professional from Thailand has been making waves on the China LPGA Tour this season. So much so that she’s now planning an assault on the LPGA Tour.

“I will go to the USA to attempt to qualify for the LPGA Tour in September. My goal is the LPGA Tour,’’ said Patcharajutar, a former world junior champion and a two-time winner on this year’s China LPGA Tour.

She’s also got attitude. After two late bogeys cost her a third victory in Chengdu on Sunday, she reportedly threw her ball into a lake and stalked off to the clubhouse, refusing to talk to the media.

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Can it get any worse for Tiger Woods?

In case you missed it, Tiger Woods finally finished first . . . except it was for most bogeys (22) at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Woods finished T-78, his worst finish in a Tour event in which he played four rounds. Woods’ total of 298 is also his highest four-round score of his Tour career. He also tallied scores higher than par on 25 holes, which is the most in any tournament of his career (pro or amateur). It marked the first time he shot over par in all four rounds since the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

To do so at Firestone Country Club’s South Course, where he has won seven times and hadn’t shot over par since 2006, was stunning.

What seemed like heresy a few weeks ago, seems a distinct possibility now: Could Tiger Woods go winless in 2010?

It wasn’t long ago that Jack Nicklaus said U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin “would need a brain scan” if he were to leave Woods off the team. Now it doesn’t seem so farfetched.

Said Woods, “I wouldn’t help the team if I’m playing like this.”

Heading into this week’s PGA Championship, Woods has gone nine majors – including the two he skipped due to injury – without a victory, marking his longest stretch without a major since he reconfigured his swing in 2003 and ’04.

It’s beginning to seem a long time ago since Tiger’s 2008 U.S. Open triumph at “The Battle at Wounded Knee.”

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Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus will be among the legends playing in Benton Harbor, Mich. (USA) this week.

This week, the golf world will focus its attention on Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, site of the 91st PGA Championship.

Forget about the pairing of defending champion Y.E. Yang, the man whom he hunted down last year at Hazeltine, Tiger Woods, and Vijay Singh, the last major winner at this year’s venue. Even a Cheesehead would concede that there’s a stronger pairing across Lake Michigan. That’s where Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller will compete in “Champions for Change,” a ceremonial opening round fundraiser at the Nicklaus-design Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.

On Aug. 10, the foursome of legends will play all 18 holes of the course in a skins format with rotating two-man teams. The allure of seeing the winners of a combined 35 majors – to benefit a community redevelopment project – may explain why the event already is sold out.

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