Golf: Four players can overtake world No. 1 Jon Rahm at The Players

(Clockwise from top left) Americans Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland of Norway are all within striking distance of the top ranking. PHOTOS: AFP

MIAMI (REUTERS) - Five different golfers have a chance to sit on the proverbial throne as world No. 1 at the conclusion of The Players Championship this weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Americans Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland of Norway are all within striking distance of the top ranking.

If they fail to do so, Spaniard Jon Rahm could retain the title for the 42nd week of his career.

When Scheffler moved into fifth following his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last Sunday, it made this the first week in the history of the ranking system that each of the top five players are all younger than 30 years old.

The Players champion earns 80 ranking points, whereas standard tournaments dole out a much smaller number of points that varies by the strength of field.

That big prize creates scenarios where world No. 2 Morikawa, 25, No. 3 Hovland, 24, No. 4 Cantlay, 29 or Scheffler, 25 could overtake the 27-year-old Rahm, who has held on to No. 1 since winning the 2021 Open Championship.

Morikawa and Hovland became Tour rookies at the same time in 2019 and have not needed much time to make their mark, particularly Morikawa, who has already won two Majors.

"We just truly believed in ourselves and that's the No. 1 thing, which is that you absolutely have to trust yourself that you can do it," Morikawa said on Tuesday ahead of today's start of The Players.

"Not just make it to the PGA Tour, not just make it to the top 100, top 50 in the world but to be No. 1."

It would be a particularly unparalleled rise for Scheffler, who has contended on Tour and helped the victorious US Ryder Cup team last fall but finally broke through with his first two PGA Tour wins over his past three starts.

"I wouldn't say I really pay too much close attention to stuff like that," he said.

"For me, I'm just really focused on this event and kind of getting ready."

For his part, Rahm said he had no idea that so many players were on his tail.

"You should ask if I want to know those things or not," he joked.

"No. No. Even if you're No. 1, you've still got to perform every week. I'm chasing people myself, as well, so no, I don't feel like I'm being chased."

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