Spieth climbs to OWGR No. 9; Sneds outside top 50

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Nearing the two-year anniversary of the day he turned pro, Jordan Spieth will enter the 2015 calendar year with a new title: top-10 player in the world.

After a run of events brought him from Japan (T-3) to Australia (won) to Florida (won), Spieth jumped from No. 11 to No. 9 after his runaway victory at the Hero World Challenge.

The events with world-ranking significance this week are the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, the Australian PGA and the Asian Tour’s Thailand Golf Championship, which is set to include Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood and Ernie Els, among others.

Danny Willett, who came from behind to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge, rose from No. 84 to No. 56 in the world. It was the second title of the 27-year-old’s career, following his maiden victory at the 2012 BMW International Open.

Even though he finished a distant second to Spieth at Isleworth, Henrik Stenson earned valuable world-ranking points that will keep him at No. 2 in the world for the rest of the calendar year. Neither world No. 1 Rory McIlroy nor No. 3 Adam Scott played last week.   

Tiger Woods returned to competition last week in Orlando, but his share of last place (T-17) actually moved him down a spot in the world rankings, from No. 24 to No. 25.

Here is the top 10 in the world heading into this week’s action: McIlroy, Stenson, Scott, Watson, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Garcia, Jason Day, Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

The top 50 at year’s end are exempt into all of the 2015 majors and World Golf Championship events. Currently on the bubble is No. 50 Brendon Todd, who swapped places with new No. 51 Brandt Snedeker. During the 2013 FedEx Cup playoffs, Snedeker was ranked as high as No. 7. Others in the mix are No. 46 Gary Woodland, No. 48 Kevin Streelman, No. 54 Louis Oosthuizen and No. 57 Jonas Blixt.