Tiger Woods faces threat to world number one ranking
World Golf Championship, Akron, Ohio Dates: 5-8 August Venue: Firestone Country Club Coverage: Leaderboard on BBC website, live on Sky Sports
Woods finished in a share of 23rd place at the Open at St Andrews
Tiger Woods will face two challenges to his world number one ranking when he defends his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio on Thursday.
Phil Mickelson will depose him with a win, or a top-four finish if Woods were to finish outside the top 37.
Lee Westwood, runner-up in two majors in 2010, would reach number one if he wins and Woods is outside the top two.
Westwood could also take top spot if he was second, Woods is worse than ninth and Mickelson does not take the title.
Woods has had five years in his current run as world number one but is yet to win this season in seven attempts after returning from a five-month absence following the much publicised revelations about his private life.
"Am I conscious of the pack closing in? Yes, because every tournament you guys remind me," Woods told reporters in Ohio.
"You just keep playing - how I got here in the first place was playing golf tournaments and how I sustained it was by winning golf tournaments.
"Winning tournaments takes care of a lot of things. Being number one is one of them."
Woods has a formidable record at the 7,400-yard par-70 Firestone Country Club course, winning on his last four appearances there and a US Tour record seven times in total.
Westwood has finished in the top three in four of the last five majors
He shares the course record of 61 with Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal and took the title in 2009 by four shots after closing with successive rounds of 65.
"It's one of the best courses we play all year," said Woods, who will tee off alongside Westwood at 1850 BST in the first round on Thursday. "Everything is right in front of you."
Australian Stuart Appleby has earned a place in the field following his round of 59 that won him the Greenbrier Classic title on Sunday, matching the score posted by American Paul Goydos in the opening round of the John Deere Classic in July.
Three-time major champion Ernie Els said: "I don't care if you play it on a pitch-and-putt course, to shoot that kind of a number is a milestone in anybody's career, and you've got to give them credit.
"And then we get to a beast like this, [Firestone]. I would hate to see a 59 this week because then I'll know I'm playing a different game."
Appleby added the chances of a 59 were extremely slim on the tree-lined Firestone course, famed for its firm, fast putting surfaces.
"You have to make everything [putting-wise], and you can only do that basically on receptive greens," said the 39-year-old, who ended a four-year wait for a title with his ninth PGA victory last week.
"None of these rounds are shot on firm greens, I can assure you of that."
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, who carded a 59 while practising on his home Royal Portrush course recently, plays in his first event in America since landing his first major with the US Open title in June.
"I think a 59 is about putting," McDowell said. "You can only hit the golf ball so well. After that you've got to hole some putts."
The 30-year-old Northern Irishman is one of 27 Europeans in the elite field this week.
Australian Robert Allenby has withdrawn because of a knee injury, leaving only 81 players in the event.
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