Woods lucky to still be on top
Tiger Woods is a lucky man to still be the highest ranked golfer on the planet this Monday morning.
A beleaguered Tiger Woods must surely consider himself to be a lucky man to still be the highest ranked golfer on the planet this Monday morning.
He retained his world number one ranking ahead of the fourth major of the year at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, this week despite finishing joint 78th in the 80-man field at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio yesterday.
It was his worst performance in his professional career, but he managed to cling onto his No 1 ranking because none of the men who have been eating away at his lead were able to do anything about it this week.
One of the pursuers who could have overhauled him, Lee Westwood, has been sidelined by injury, and the other, Phil Mickelson, played almost as poorly as Woods did in the final round.
Mickelson knew he needed to finish fourth or better to move top of the world rankings after Woods posted a closing round of 77, but the reigning US Masters champion endured a nightmare front nine of 41 to once again delay his chances of ending his rival’s five-year reign.
Mickelson finished with an eight over 78 in a tie for 46th as Hunter Mahan triumphed by two strokes on 12 under following a final round 64 at Firestone Country Club.
Asked whether he would prefer to be taking a break, rather than entering the US PGA Championship, Woods said: “Well, it is what it is. I’ve got to be ready come Thursday, that’s all that matters.”
Woods carded three birdies, six bogeys and two double bogeys to finish 18 over par at Firestone, a venue where he had won on his previous four visits and a US Tour record seven times in all.
That set an unwanted record for his highest 72-hole score in relation to par, while his total of 298 was also his highest score through four rounds of his PGA Tour career.
Woods is currently outside the automatic qualifying places for the United States Ryder Cup team with just one counting event remaining, although he may have the safety net of a captain’s pick – should Corey Pavin choose to select him and should Woods choose to accept.
Asked if he wanted to play at Celtic Manor from October 1-3, Woods said: “Not playing like this. I would not help the team if I was playing like this.
“I think I can turn it around. We have a lot of time between now and then, which is good.”
Mickelson believes he can still topple Woods from the top of the world rankings.
“It will eventually happen, I believe,” said Mickelson, who has been second for a record 258 weeks.
“I’ve got to play better golf, though.
“I haven’t really played a lot of competitive golf in the last six, eight weeks. It showed and I’ve got a lot to work on in the next couple of days.”
Butch Harmon, a former coach of Woods, was aghast at his protege’s form, but believes Mickelson assuming the number one ranking would only serve as a boost.
“Tiger Woods right now is playing the worst I’ve ever seen him play,” Harmon told Sky Sports.
“I’ve known Tiger Woods since he was a teenager and he looks lost out there.
“Tiger Woods has got to get his head right; he’s got to get his life in order before he can even think about playing golf.
“(But) I think if Phil Mickelson gets to number one in the world, that’s a big motivational thing for Tiger Woods.”
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