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Tour Report: Woods has eye on No. 1 again

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Interview: Tiger Woods

The seven-time Brigestone Invitational winner discusses his week at Firestone

AKRON, Ohio — Tiger Woods spent 623 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world. For the last 90, though, that designation has belonged either to Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer or Lee Westwood.

Should Woods win the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational for the eighth time this week at Firestone Country Club, the current world No. 2 could reclaim the spot he’d held longer than anyone in history. But that would only happen should the man who sits No. 1, Luke Donald, finish third or worse.

And don’t think Woods, who fell as low as No. 58 late in the 2010 season after battling injuries and revamping his swing, isn’t aware of the opportunity at hand.

"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," Woods said. "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."

Donald is currently in his fourth stint at No. 1 and has held down the coveted spot for a total of 55 weeks — longer than anyone else in the Tiger Woods era. He’s certainly aware of the resurgent Woods, who ended a 30-month victory drought with three wins this season. But Donald knows better than to worry about things he can’t control.

"I’m certainly very proud of my No. 1 ranking and how long I’ve kept it," Donald 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."

Woods’ three wins are more than anyone else on the PGA TOUR. Of course, 2012 could get better this week with his phenomenal eighth win at Firestone — and become what he would call a "great" year his 15th major title in next week’s PGA.

"I feel very comfortable where I am at because everything is progressing," Woods said. "This year I’ve taken the steps headed in the right direction and shot better scores and been more consistent. You know, 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 has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. But his results have improved with each of this year’s first three majors — a tie for 40th at the Masters, joint 21st at the U.S. Open and a tie for third at the British Open where he closed with a 73 — and he sees this week at Firestone as another chance to measure his progress.

"It’s nice knowing that we have a big event with the best players in the world here right before a major championship," Woods 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.  We used to have it on the back end after the PGA, and some of the guys were sometimes a little bit burnt out, a little bit fried from playing a PGA Championship.
   
"But this is exciting for us to all be together like this and get ready for a big week this week, but again, an even bigger week next week."


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