Lee Westwood began life as new world number one with an impressive six-under-par 66 in the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions on Thursday to sit just one shot behind Italy's Francesco Molinari at the top of the leaderboard.
The 37-year-old Englishman, who ended Tiger Woods' 281-week reign at the top of the rankings last weekend, played through the pain of stubborn ankle and calf injuries and offset a lone bogey with seven birdies around the Sheshan International course.
Westwood, Woods, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson currently occupy the top four places in the world rankings and a win for either one of them in this event would guarantee the number one spot at the start of next week. "I think the world rankings are reflective of how competitive world golf is at the moment. Nobody is out-and-out world number one," Westwood told reporters after playing his first competitive round since October's Dunhill Links Championship.
"I think that's partly to do with Tiger not having played quite so well this year and partly to do with Tiger having made everybody else elevate their game," he added.
"Tiger's a victim almost of his own brilliance. We have all had to work harder and we have closed the gap, I guess."
Despite the threat of seeing his tenure at the top of the pile last just one week, Westwood does not feel under any extra pressure to defend his new position as the man to beat.
"I don't think I need to reinforce why I'm world number one. I didn't really go out there (today) with any particular thought to perform like the world number one," he added.
"I think you get there as a result of good performances but it's nice show everybody there is a particular reason why I got to this stage. I think I did that today."
Woods shot an impressive 68 to sit three shots behind Molinari in a tie for sixth, a shot ahead of American compatriot and defending champion Mickelson and four clear of Germany's Kaymer, who could only manage a par 72 round.
The American overcame a first-hole bogey to roar back into contention with five birdies and was quick to remind reporters that his extended run at the top was a result of years of consistency.
"It felt good today. The things that I've been working felt good. I hit a lot of good golf shots," Woods said.
"I got to number one in the world by winning golf tournaments and I've had that sustainability for a number of years by doing that. The whole idea is to win golf tournaments and this is no different. The reason why we tee it up is to win."
One shot behind Westwood are Sweden's Henrik Stenson, Japan's Yuta Ikeda and South Korean Noh Seung-yul in a tie for third heading into Friday's second round.