|Tiger Woods fell out of the top 50 golfers on Monday for the first time since 1996. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)
PHILADELPHIA -- Tiger Woods' free fall in the world rankings continues as he dropped out of the top 50 for the first time since the week of Oct. 13, 1996.
Woods, who started 2011 as world No. 2 and is now 51st, turned professional in 1996 and quickly began his steady rise in the rankings.
After winning a playoff in Las Vegas, he took third at the Texas Open. Those high finishes pushed Woods to 61st in the world. The following week he won at Disney World to improve to 37th, and he had been in the top 50 in the world until this week.
Woods will look to halt his downward spiral as he returns to action this week at the Frys.com Open.
The top of the rankings remained the same as Luke Donald held steady at No. 1. He was again followed by Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day.
Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar both improved one spot to eighth and ninth. Those moves knocked Phil Mickelson down a pair to 10th. Nick Watney finished second behind Kevin Na this weekend in Las Vegas, but held steady at No. 11.
Charl Schwartzel and Webb Simpson exchanged places with the Masters champion inching up a notch to 12th. Graeme McDowell moved up one to 14th, which bumped K.J. Choi down to No. 15.
Bubba Watson and Justin Rose remained 16th and 17th. David Toms and Hunter Mahan flip-flopped positions with Toms up to 18. Paul Casey jumped three to No. 20, and his move knocked FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas out of the top 20.
Na won the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday and climbed 14 places to No. 62. Michael Hoey was a winner on the European Tour at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and improved 173 spots to 98th in the new rankings.