Mike Mcallister
Tuesday February 15th, 2005

Golf Power Rankings
RankLW Player
Did you expect anyone else? Lefty keeps setting personal bests, like winning in consecutive weeks for the first time in his career, and also winning wire-to-wire for the first time (as he did at Pebble Beach). But can he remain sharp until he begins his Masters defense in April? Taking this week off should allow him to relax after all the attention of the past two weeks.
Tiger's breathing down Vijay's neck for No. 1 in the World Rankings, and can reclaim the top spot by finishing fourth or better this week at the Nissan Open. Tiger, returning from a three-week layoff, also will welcome back his caddie, Steve Williams, who has been healing from an injury to his left hand. Photographers, watch out!
It's been a struggle for Vijay since he left the island of Hawaii. He's failed to reach the top 10 in his last three starts and saw his consecutive cuts streak end at 28 last weekend at Pebble Beach. Now he's in danger of losing his No. 1 ranking to Tiger. No one's pushing the panic button ... yet.
The Big Easy's next start won't be until early March at the Dubai Desert Classic. He's been busy taking care of his golf course design business but knows he can't let his game slack off. "I may not be in competitive action, but these next couple of weeks are important," Els writes on his Web site. "I want to get sharp."
Clark dropped out of last week's Power Rankings. He must have been mad. He tied for fourth at Pebble Beach -- his third consecutive start with a top-four finish. That includes a win in his home country at the South African Airways Open. Clark ranks fifth in scoring average on Tour. Yes, Tim, we made a mistake last week. Sorry about that.
Hey, look who's back! Appleby finally returns to a Tour event after winning the season-opening Mercedes Championship in Hawaii. Unfortunately for Appleby, he just lost his claim to the world's long-driving record. Englishman Paul Slater knocked a drive 720 yards down a runway at London City Airport, besting Appleby's recent 696-yard drive.
Leonard's back this week after sitting out Pebble Beach. Will we see the Leonard who won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, or the one who missed the cut the following week at the FBR Open? Meanwhile, it appears Leonard may face off against John Daly in one of the more intriguing first-round pairings at the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa.
Like Singh, Cink hasn't fared nearly as well this year since leaving Hawaii. A couple of fifth-place finishes on the island have been followed by results outside the top 10. He also fell one spot in the World Rankings during his absence last week at Pebble Beach and is now No. 9.
In his two starts this season, Clarke has tied for fourth at the South African Open and tied for sixth at Pebble Beach. Not bad but hardly impressive, you say? Consider that he's also dealing with his wife's chemotherapy for breast cancer, and that he's taking care of their two young kids. Yet his game and focus were good enough to stay competitive. Impressed now?
Hale Irwin
The Champions Tour cranks up after a lengthy hiatus following Irwin's Turtle Bay win. Irwin's stiffest challenger this week may be Curtis Strange, who turned 50 in January and is making his Champions Tour debut.
Dropped out: David Toms, Scott McCarron
Weekly Rankings: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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