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Woods eyes rankings redemption

ESPN staff
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Tiger Woods gets to grips with the course at Firestone © PA Photos
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Tiger Woods admits regaining the world No. 1 spot after tumbling down the standings would rank as a "pretty good" achievement.

Woods tees it up at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this week looking for an eighth victory in the event. Should he head the leaderboard after four rounds at Firestone, and current world No. 1 Luke Donald finish third or worse, the 14-time major champion will reclaim the spot he has held longer than anyone.

Woods spent 623 weeks at the top of the rankings before a series of injuries, poor form, and swing changes saw him slip out of the world's top 50 last October. The American has slowly re-established himself, with three PGA Tour wins this year proof he is far from finished.

"It would be nice to get back there [No. 1 in the world] 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."

Of paramount importance to Woods is winning majors - something he has not managed to do since the 2008 US Open. Despite his lengthy drought, the American, who finished in a tie for third at the recent Open Championship, is looking forward to fine-tuning his preparations ahead of another major tilt at next week's US PGA Championship.

"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."

In preparation for the final major of the year Woods played the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island earlier this week, and he is under no illusions about the size of the task in hand.

"It was really soft," he added. "I don't think it's going to be like that during the tournament. It rained almost two inches the night before. It's going to be long. I mean, I think it's going to be close to 7,700 yards, and that's a big ballpark.

"Right now when I played it was slow, but it's going to be a great test. I don't know how the spectators are going to get around this place. First of all, I don't know how they're going to get to it. But once they're there, it's going to be a great environment."

While trying to overhaul Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors is at the forefront of Woods' mind, winning gold at the 2016 Olympics - when golf will be included in the Games' schedule - is also occupying his thoughts.

Woods, who will be 40 in Rio, said: "I've got to qualify first. If I get in, it would be great. I don't know how it's going to be scheduling wise. We have seven big events right now in this stretch, and we're adding an eighth. It's going to be a very, very busy summer for us as golfers. But it's also the Olympics, and it is a very big event and something that we haven't historically been involved in. It's always a first to be involved in something to that magnitude, and if I make it, that would be great."

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