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Dublin: 22 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

Tiger Woods’ top ranking under threat at Doral

The 14-time major winner withdrew from the Honda Classic on Sunday with back spasms.

Tiger Woods, in passenger seat, leaves after withdrawing having played 13 holes in the final round of the Honda Classic.
Tiger Woods, in passenger seat, leaves after withdrawing having played 13 holes in the final round of the Honda Classic.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

AN INJURED TIGER Woods could give up his world number one ranking at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

The American 14-time major winner withdrew from the Honda Classic on Sunday with back spasms and is undecided as to whether he will defend his title at Doral starting Thursday.

Australian Masters champion Adam Scott could pass Woods with a win at the World Golf Championships event. Woods is a seven-time winner of the tournament, including a two-stroke victory over Steve Stricker last year.

The 38-year-old has been nowhere near his best this season, finishing tied for 80th and equal 41st in his two tournaments prior to the Honda Classic. But with the world’s best at the Trump National Doral in Florida, Woods would find it tough to challenge even without a sore back.

Rory McIlroy was denied in a play-off at the Honda Classic and has three top-10 finishes this year. Scott has been in similarly good form without winning, while American Dustin Johnson has also gone close in 2014.

Australia’s Jason Day won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February and could threaten once more. Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson are among the others who will fancy their chances of winning the US$1,530,000 winner’s share.

The Blue Monster course has undergone significant change ahead of this year’s tournament.

Spaniard Garcia said it was definitely tougher, with several greens now closer to water, putting surfaces expanded and different angles.

“I liked it. I think that it’s more challenging. It feels like they’ve taken down a good amount of trees, except for the right of 18,” Garcia said.

“But the rough seems to be a little higher and the fairways are a little tighter.”

Garcia expects it to be a little harder to shoot birdies, predicting it was unlikely the winner would be 20 under come tournament’s end.

Woods may find it too difficult if he recovers in time and Scott may pounce to pass him and go top of the rankings.

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