By Ryan Herrington
That Tiger Woods sits 1,266th in the latest Official World Golf Ranking is both hard to fathom and hardly a surprise. The man who had held the No. 1 ranking more weeks than any golfer since the OWGR’s inception in 1986 (683) has played just nine rounds of competitive golf since his single-car accident in February 2021. Naturally, he was going to fall well down the rankings as the 46-year-old continues to nurse his surgically rebuilt right leg back to health. And you might recall that his last round in an official OWGR event before the accident actually took place at the November Masters in 2020, with Woods undergoing back surgery a month later that had sidelined him in early 2021 before the crash.
The good news is that we’ll get to see a fair amount of Tiger in the coming days. He’s scheduled to play in next week’s Hero World Challenge (Dec 1-4), then compete in the latest edition of “The Match” (Dec 10) alongside Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, followed by a third appearance with son Charlie at the PNC Championship the weekend after that (Dec 17-18).
By competing in the Bahamas at the Hero, Woods will be playing in an 18-player, no-cut event offering World Ranking points. Given the strength of the field — 17 of the 21 players in the world are teeing it up — a strong performance could quickly shoot Woods back up the rankings. According to Twitter’s resident OWGR expert, Nosferatu, if Tiger were to somehow manage a win at the Hero — a long shot for sure — could jump more than 1,000 spots to inside the top 250.
A more realistic expectation for a finish would be somewhere in the second half of the field. While what that might specifically do for his current World Ranking won’t be known until next week, Woods’ fans can take some solace in understanding that it could bring him back to around 650. This is based off the fact that Woods found himself in a similar situation back in 2017. Tiger was coming off lumbar fusion surgery that has sidelined him for more than nine months. His ranking had plummeted to 1,199th. But Woods made a grand return at the Hero that December, finishing ninth and moving up more than 530 spots to 668th.
Woods started 2022 ranked 598th and fell to 973rd before returning to play at the Masters, making the cut and finishing 47th to jump to 757th. He played at the PGA Championship in May, making the cut a Southern Hills but withdrawing after the third round due to pain in his right foot. He rested through June, missing the US Open, before competing again at the 150th Open at St Andrews, where he missed the cut.
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