Westwood not helping OWGR top-50 cause at Nedbank

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While Marc Leishman and Henrik Stenson battle atop the leaderboard at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, a surprising story continues to play out further down the standings.

Lee Westwood recently dropped outside of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time since 2007, and the Englishman entered this week's event in South Africa ranked No. 55. The limited-field event in Sun City offered Westwood a great opportunity to earn some valuable ranking points, but after three rounds he has not been able to take advantage.

At 9 over, Westwood sits alone in 28th place among the 30-man field, undone by a second-round 81 and 23 shots behind Leishman. He's unlikely to make up much ground in the final round, as he remains six shots behind 27th-place Webb Simpson.

The top-50 cutoff at year's end is significant for Westwood, as he is not yet exempt for the Masters. The 42-year-old has missed only one major since 2007, and he has played every Masters since 2005.

This week's result is a microcosm for Westwood's year, which began with him ranked No. 26 in the world. While he made the cut in all four majors, he finished no better than T-43 in any of them and posted only one top-10 finish in 15 PGA Tour starts.

Westwood will have one last chance to earn world ranking points next week at the Thailand Golf Championship, where he is the event's defending champion.