Tiger Woods to drop out of top 100 for first time since 1996

Last month, Woods recorded an 82 at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, the highest round of his career

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The Independent Online

While golf awaits word from Tiger Woods about his Masters participation next week, the world rankings are set to pronounce their own withering verdict on his wellbeing today.

Woods, who has not played since early February because of injury to body and game, is set to fall out of the top 100 for the first time since he entered it with a maiden PGA Tour victory in Las Vegas in 1996.

Last month, Woods recorded an 82 at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, the highest round of his career, and a week later at the Farmers Insurance Open called a halt 12 holes into his opening round.

The back trouble that flared briefly at Torrey Pines was quickly resolved but not the short game that underpinned the Woods aura at his imperious best. Having slipped to No 96 last week, calculations suggest his name will come to rest at 102 after the results of the Valero Texas Open have been factored in.

Woods elected not to play in Houston this week, the final PGA Tour event before the Masters, and his old college friend and confidant Notah Begay claims he is at best 50-50 to accept the invitation to Augusta. Technically, since the Masters is invite-only, Woods has until his tee time on 9 April, the first day of the tournament, to declare his hand. Etiquette points to an announcement early next week.

If he fails to show, Woods will be absent for the second successive year, back surgery having laid him low last year.

The next big event after that is the Players Championship at Sawgrass in early May, one of five tournaments Woods won in 2013.

Woods, whose fourth Masters title came a decade ago, occupied the world No 1 spot for a record 683 weeks. He last lost it to Australia’s Adam Scott last May.

Tiger’s ups & downs

November 2010

Having held the No 1 spot for five straight years, Woods lost it to Lee Westwood, beginning a decline in which he falls to No 58 by November 2011.

March 2013

Regains world No 1 spot.

May 2014

Drops to No 2 ranking.

August 2014

Moves out of top 10.

February 2015

Falls out of top 50 for first time since November 2011.