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Tiger back in top 20 despite Abu Dhabi disappointment

ESPN staff
January 30, 2012 « Richards relieved at Kompany's return | Chartbeat test »

Tiger Woods is back inside the top 20 of golf's world rankings despite failing to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday.

Woods has moved up to No. 17 after his third-place finish on Sunday, with eventual winner Robert Rock leapfrogging to 55th after his nervy triumph.

Woods, the 14-time major champion, entered the final round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on level terms with the Englishman, but seemed unable to find either fairways or greens as Rock held his nerve to grab a narrow one-shot triumph over Rory McIlroy - who supplanted Lee Westwood as world No. 2 as a result.

While disappointed with his failure to claim victory in his first event from 2012, Woods decided to take the positives from a mixed performance.

"I've got a week off to get ready for Pebble [The AT&T Pro Am] and then we have a couple of big events, a couple of World Golf Championships," Woods said. "So there's plenty of big events to go, but I'm pleased at the progress I've made so far.

"Basically since Australia [last year], my strokeplay events have been pretty good. So I just need to keep building, keep getting more consistent.

"Today I was just a touch off. I was righting the ball through the fairways. I was hitting the ball a little bit further than I thought I would ... so something to look at, and something to try and figure out.

"Today was a day where I putted beautifully. Just didn't give myself enough looks."

Rock, whose victory and new world ranking should grant him entry to the forthcoming WGC-Accenture Match Play and a host of golf's other prestigious events, admitted to a cringeworthy moment with Woods during their final round together.

"Oh, yeah. That's embarrassing actually," Rock recalled. "A couple of marshals had gone off the side of the tee [at the 10th] and they were walking around on some, I don't know what the ground was, but it was making quite a bit of noise.

"So, when I got ready to hit my iron shot and I heard the same thing, I just assumed it was the guy I was looking at; [but I noticed] it was Tiger walking back as I shouted, 'Stand still, please.'

"He just laughed and he was fine. [I] shouldn't have done that."

Elsewhere, Farmers Insurance Open winner Brandt Snedeker has moved up 18 places to 15th following his dramatic play-off triumph. Kyle Stanley, whose 18th hole meltdown opened the door for Snedeker to sneak home, is up 63 places to 87th despite his heartbreak.

World Rankings: 1. Luke Donald (ENG), 2. Rory McIlroy (NIR), 3. Lee Westwood (ENG), 4. Martin Kaymer (GER), 5. Steve Stricker (USA), 6. Webb Simpson (USA), 7. Adam Scott (AUS), 8. Charl Schwartzel (RSA), 9. Dustin Johnson (USA), 10. Jason Day (AUS), 11. Graeme McDowell (NIR) 12. Matt Kuchar (USA), 13. KJ Choi (KOR), 14. Nick Watney (USA), 15. Brandt Snedeker (USA), 16. Phil Mickelson (USA), 17. Tiger Woods (USA), 18. Sergio Garcia (ESP), 19. Hunter Mahan (USA), 20. Justin Rose (ENG).

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