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Posted at 11:08 AM ET, 01/30/2012

Tiger Woods cracks golf’s top 20 rankings

Tiger Woods tees off on 15 during the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. (Kamran Jebreili / AP)
Instead of marching up the 18th fairway and finally winning again, Tiger Woods slipped and finished in a tie for third place in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday.

He was close, though. He entered the final round of the tournament tied with Robert Rock, but couldn’t keep up as Rock edged Rory McIlroy by one stroke and Woods and others by two. Still, the takeaway for Woods is that he at least has re-entered the recently alien territory of golf’s top 20 world rankings, moving up eight spots to 17th. McIlroy moved past Lee Westwood into the No. 2 spot.

Robert Rock was just a bit better than Tiger Woods on Sunday in Abu Dhabi. (Kamran Jebreili / AP)
“I've got a week off to get ready for Pebble [the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach] and then we have a couple of big events, a couple of World Golf Championships,” said Woods, who has not won a full-field event since August 2009. “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.”

Does Woods’s finish bode well for him in 2012? Is this the year he wins his 15th major?

By  |  11:08 AM ET, 01/30/2012

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