Tiger's finish has impact on his '12 exemptions

Tiger Woods watches a shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Chevron World Challenge.

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods’ play at the Chevron World Challenge has the golf world wondering if he can return to the PGA Tour winner’s circle in 2012. A high finish Sunday at Chevron all but ensures he’ll return to two events where he’s had success.

Woods, who ranks 52nd in the Official World Golf Ranking, would leap to approximately 22nd with a victory here Sunday. He’ll rank approximately 30th if he finishes second. Woods would move to approximately 36th in the world if he finishes third at Chevron. Exact rankings can't be determined until the end of Sunday's play.

Woods begins the final round at Sherwood Country Club at 7-under 209. Zach Johnson is one shot ahead of Woods after Johnson holed his approach to the final hole Saturday for an eagle-2. Woods is two shots ahead of third-place K.J. Choi and four shots in front of three players tied for fourth: Gary Woodland, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar.

Why is that important?

A high finish assures Woods a spot in the WGC-Accenture Match Play, which he has won three times, and virtually guarantees his place in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, a course on which he has won a handful of times.

Woods’ spot in either field was in jeopardy. The top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking in early February earn berths in the Match Play, which will be held Feb. 20-26 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. The world ranking’s top 50 are exempt into the Cadillac, which is scheduled for March 8-11 at Doral (Fla.) Golf Resort & Spa.

Woods is in the other World Golf Championship, the Bridgestone Invitational, by virtue of his appearance at this year’s Presidents Cup. He’s exempt into all four majors based on past accomplishments.

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