PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Fifty-three weeks after he relinquished the No. 1 ranking in the world for the first time in more than five years, Tiger Woods dropped to his lowest point since his early days as a professional.
Because of injuries, he had barely played in 2011, was a controversial captain’s pick of Fred Couples for the U.S. Presidents Cup team, competed in just one tournament following a missed cut at the PGA Championship, and produced a mediocre tie for 30th at the Frys.com Open.
Woods was ranked 58th in the world.
It was easily explained away: He had missed so many tournaments, his ranking was bound to slip. He hadn’t won in more than two years, the points from all of those 2009 victories disappearing.
Almost exactly 16 months later, Woods is a strong No. 2 and in position to surpass Rory McIlroy for the top spot, depending on the results of the next several weeks. Woods has won five times in the past year on the PGA Tour, more than anybody in that span, and matched McIlroy’s worldwide victory total during that period.
McIlroy won money titles on both the PGA Tour and European Tour last year and also captured a major championship. Undoubtedly, Woods’ ability to claim a major in 2013 and snap a five-year drought in the game’s biggest tournaments will be closely watched as the rest of this season unfolds.