World No. 2 Tiger Woods has Luke Donald in his sights at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
American will return to top if he wins the PGA Tour event for the eighth time
Woods dropped as low as 58th but third place at British Open continued his steady resurgence
He will be playing alongside the only other three-time winner of 2012, Branden Grace
Tiger Woods has not held golf’s No. 1 ranking since October 2010, but he is now within touching distance of adding to his record 623 weeks at the top.
The 14-time major champion can topple Luke Donald by winning the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational tournament for the eighth time as long as the Englishman finishes no higher than third come Sunday.
“It would be nice to get back there because obviously it meant that as far as I had dropped, to build my way back up to this point, I’ve had some wins, I’ve had some very high finishes, I’ve been consistent,” said Woods, who dropped as low as 58th following his well-publicized divorce and injury problems.
“That’s how you get to be one of the top players in the world. To be ranked as low as I did and then come all the way back to, as of right now, No. 2, that’s pretty good.”
Woods has finished tied for 40th, 21st and third in the three majors ahead of this season’s final one – next week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
He tops the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings after three tournament victories which have taken him to second on the all-time list with 74.
He is the only three-time winner on the U.S. circuit, but will be teeing off at Firestone on Thursday with South Africa’s Branden Grace – the only player on the European Tour with a hat-trick of victories in 2012.
“I feel very comfortable where I am at because everything is progressing,” Woods said on the PGA Tour website. “This year I’ve taken the steps headed in the right direction and shot better scores and been more consistent.
“When you make changes like I’ve made in my game, it takes a little bit of time, and things are starting to click in now. And to have three wins this year, it’s headed in the right direction.”
Woods pulled out of the final round of the last WGC event, the Cadillac Championship in March, but has since put his injuries behind him.
“It’s nice knowing that we have a big event with the best players in the world here right before a major championship,” the 36-year-old said.
“This will be a nice way to get our games ready for obviously next week but also really test us at the same time. Having back-to-back championships like this, it’s a positive thing.”
Donald has held the No. 1 ranking for 55 weeks across four different stints, but is still seeking his first major title.
“I’m certainly very proud of my No. 1 ranking and how long I’ve kept it,” the 34-year-old said. “That shows how consistent I’ve been over the last couple years, and I’ll continue to try and work on accomplishing a lot more in this game.
“And if I keep doing what I know I can do, winning more tournaments and hopefully winning majors, then hopefully I can stay there.
“But obviously I’ve got a lot of great players behind me, including Tiger. It’s good to have guys like that chomping at your heel. They push you to work harder, to challenge yourself to try and get to that next level.”