Top 25 golf stories of 2013, No. 10: After 2.5 years, Tiger Woods is No. 1 in the world again

Sam Greenwood

A whopping 877 days after he'd lost it, Tiger Woods regained the No. 1 spot in the world and made our countdown in the process.

On Oct. 31, 2010 Lee Westwood overtook Tiger Woods for the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings. Some 877 days later, Woods finally regained the top spot in the world.

Other than on paper, being No. 1 in the world doesn't mean a whole lot. It's a nice career accomplishment, but it won't win you tournaments and certainly doesn't guarantee you'll win major championships. For Woods, however, reclaiming the No. 1 spot in the world was less about the number next to his name and more about the journey it took to get there.

He was in the midst of a downward spiral when Westwood officially passed him. Woods was coming off a winless season and still in the process of moving beyond the highly-publicized off-the-course issues in his life. His life on the course wasn't much better. He had changed coaches and was working on a new swing, but attempting to do so while playing through an assortment of leg injuries. He missed time due to a knee injury and fired long-time caddie Steve Williams. His career on-the-course hit rock bottom on Nov. 6, 2011 when the dropped to No. 58 in the world.

From there, Woods began the long and arduous process of climbing back to the top of the world. Following back-to-back winless seasons, he started to regain his old form early in in 2012. His win at the 2012 Arnold Palmer was his first since he won the BMW Championship in 2009. He went on to add two more wins that season, vaulting all the way to No. 3 in the world.

Coming off a rebound season, the "is Tiger back" debates were in full swing at the start of the 2013 season. For his part, Woods didn't waste much time answering the question. He won his first event of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open. He then made it two wins with a victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Two weeks later, he made at run at No. 1. Historically, Woods has played well in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. That proved to be the case once again when a third-round 66 put him in contention. Needing a win to overtake the No. 1 spot, Woods was forced to wait an extra day when severe weather delayed the tournament. He was challenged by Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose on the final day, but wound up winning by two strokes.

Nearly two-and-a-half years later, Tiger Woods was once again the top player in the world. The ranking was nothing new, he'd spent 623 weeks in the top spot during his career, but it was the end of a very long journey. Many questioned whether he'd ever get back there. Fans, analysts, even players. He did ... eventually.

Now all he has to do is winner another major.

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