Tiger Woods won’t be No. 1 when he returns from back surgery

Jamie Squire

Tiger’s absence leaves a gaping hole for any of four worthy challengers to climb to the top of the world-rankings ladder.

When Tiger Woods returns to the golf course after a long rehab from back surgery, he will no doubt be looking up the world ranking leaderboard at the No. 1 player in the world.

Woods has held the top spot for more than a year but his reign will likely end the Monday after the Masters, with any of four golfers poised to grab his crown, according to Golf Channel’s world-rankings expert Alan Robison.

Defending Masters champion Adam Scott has had two chances this year to overthrow a still-active Woods but spit the bit at Doral and Bay Hill. At No. 2, he still has the best chance among the four to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming the best player in the world. To do so, Scott must finish no lower than a two-way tie for third, which, given his recent meltdown at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after firing an opening-round 62 may not be as easy as it would appear.

Next up would be Henrik Stenson, who needs 53 points to overtake Woods and could actually lay claim to the crown with a win this week in Houston. Last year’s Shell Houston Open victor earned 56 points.

Should Nos. 2 and 3 falter, Jason Day (No. 4) and Phil Mickelson (No. 5) are long shots to take over the first seed. A thumb injury has slowed Day of late, while Lefty has his own health problems that have forced him to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance OpenValero Texas Open, and Wednesday’s Houston Open pro-am.

Day would get to No. 1 with a win at Augusta, while Mickelson must emerge victorious this week and next to snatch the scepter.

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