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Tiger cracks top 900! Woods curiously vaults 430 spots in world rankings to No. 898 after finishing just 18th (out of 20) in his return from ankle surgery

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If the Official World Golf Rankings are to be believed, Tiger Woods is once again among the best 900 players in the world.

In what is sure to further irritate his rivals, Woods vaulted 430 spots in the rankings after finishing just  18th out of 20 golfers in his invitational Hero World Challenge.

Woods, who was making his first start since withdrawing from the Masters in April, had fallen to a career-low 1,328th in the OWGR by last week. He made his return at the Bahamas and while the 47-year-old surprised many with his solid play, Woods bested only two players in the field.

That didn’t prevent Woods from climbing to 898th in the OWGR, his highest since before withdrawing from the 2022 PGA Championship.

That also doesn’t speak to the fact that the Hero World Challenge is an unofficial PGA Tour event.

LIV had its application to earn OWGR points denied earlier this year, largely due to the fact that its events are limited to 48 players competing in a three-day shotgun start format with no cut that also includes a team aspect.

But that Woods could climb 430 spots in an unofficial event in which he finishes third to last will almost certainly draw ire from those who believe LIV players should be earning rankings points.

Woods finished ahead of only reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and Will Zalatoris, who made his own return from a back injury that sidelined him the past nine months. Zalatoris remained at No. 33 in the world despite finishing last by nine shots.

Zalatoris earned 2.1 world ranking points for his last-place finish in the Bahamas. For comparison, Englishman Laurie Canter of LIV earned only a bit more — 3.6 points — for a tie for fourth at the Australian Open, sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Tiger Woods

Scottie Scheffler, who won the Hero World Challenge following runner-up finishes each of the past two years, strengthened his hold on the No. 1 ranking ahead of Rory McIlroy. Jon Rahm, who is reportedly weighing an offer of around $600 million to join LIV, is third.

Woods has kept a limited competition schedule after a 2021 car crash left him with a serious leg injury and he said the plan for next year had been one tournament a month.

‘Once a month seems reasonable,’ he added. ‘It gives me a couple of weeks to recover and a week to tune up. Maybe I can get into the rhythm,’ he told Golf channel.

He said he was looking forward to playing in the PNC Championship, formerly the Father/Son Challenge, from December 14 in Orlando along with his son Charlie.

Woods, who felt ‘mentally rusty’ after first day’s play on Thursday, said he was ‘ecstatic’ how the tournament turned out.

‘Every day I got faster into the round. The first day it took me a while to get a handle on it. Second day was faster and today was right away,’ he said in a press conference.

‘I feel like my game’s not that far off but I need to get in better shape.

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