Tiger Woods did not win a 15th major title Sunday at the British Open, but that’s all a part of his "process."
Part of that process also has been a gradual climb in the World Golf Ranking. He has climbed from a low of No. 58 on Nov. 6, 2011 to No. 2 in the latest rankings, released Monday after the Open. He trailed only top-ranked Luke Donald.
Woods tied for third at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, helping him leap past Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in the rankings. The finish was Woods’ best in a major since his runner-up at the 2009 PGA Championship. He has three PGA Tour victories this year and a non-Tour victory late last year to boost his ranking.
McIlroy, who tied for 60th in the Open, fell to No. 3 in the world. Westwood, who tied for 45th, fell to No. 4. US Open champion Webb Simpson rounds out the top five.
British Open champion Ernie Els vaulted from No. 40 to No. 15 on Monday.
Woods had been sitting in the No. 4 spot since June 3 after his victory at the Memorial Tournament. Woods last saw the No. 2 spot on Jan. 16, 2011.
Returning to the second spot also makes him the highest-ranked American since Phil Mickelson was No. 3 the week of April 3, 2011. Five of this week’s top 10 are from the United States, including Bubba Watson (No. 7), Jason Dufner (No. 8) and Matt Kuchar (No. 9).
Woods’ return to the top two in the rankings is remarkable considering he was ranked No. 50 or worse from Sept. 25 through Dec. 3 in 2011. His victory at the Chevron World Challenge, an unofficial event that carries world-ranking points, bumped him up to No. 21, but he finished the year at No. 23.
His victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks before the 2012 Masters put him back in the top 10, at No. 6, and he hasn’t been worse than No. 9 since.
Despite his rise in the rankings, Woods is still working on parts of his game that made him a finisher in majors. That work mostly centers on distance control — off the tee and in the fairway.
"I finally feel like I’m really healthy. And I’ve got my pop back in my swing. So I’m hitting the ball distances I know I can," said Woods, who will play next at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from Aug. 2-5 at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
"Unfortunately, when I get out here with a little bit of adrenalin, it goes a little bit further, too. It’s a combination of having my strength and my speed back, at the same time playing tournament golf. It’s not that far off."