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March 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM
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Tiger Woods officially tops golf rankings

VIRGINIA WATER, England, March 26 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods has officially returned to the No. 1 spot in the men's world golf rankings.

Woods finished off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Monday that allowed him to pass Rory McIlroy for the top spot in the world rankings. This marks his record 624th week as the world's top-ranked golfer. Greg Norman has been No. 1 the second-most weeks -- 331.

The win at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., was the 77th career PGA title for Woods, and his eighth at that event. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times, no one has won the same PGA tournament nine times. Snead, with 82 wins, is the only player ahead of Woods on the all-time list for PGA championships.

The move up in the rankings for Woods knocks McIlroy to second but the entire Top Five in the rankings is changed from last week. Justin Rose, who was second to Woods at Bay Hill, moves from fifth to No. 3. Luke Donald, who missed the cut last week for the first time in a European Tour event, drops to fourth and Brandt Snedeker is now fifth.

Also, Keegan Bradley, who tied for third at the Palmer tournament, is up three places to No. 10.

Woods has a rankings point average of 11.87 while McIlroy comes in at 11.29.

Rose increased his average to 7.11 with Donald at 6.86 and Snedeker's average is 6.39.

Louis Oosthuizen remains ranked No. 6 with an average of 6.05 followed by, in order, Adam Scott (5.82), Steve Stricker (5.74) and Matt Kuchar (5.38). Bradley's average of 5.25 edged him past Phil Mickelson (5.24) for 10th.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat won last week's Maybank Malaysian Open on the European Tour and jumps from 170th to No. 85 in the rankings.

Cardinals place Freese on disabled list

JUPITER, Fla., March 26 (UPI) -- St. Louis third baseman David Freese will open the season on the disabled list with a back problem, the Cardinals said Tuesday.

Freese has been having problems with a lower back strain since May 4 when he fell into the stands while chasing a popup in foul territory.

St. Louis placed him on the disabled list retroactive to March 23, making him eligible to return to the lineup April 7. The Cardinals open the 2013 season Monday at Arizona and also have a series in San Francisco before their home opener April 8 versus Cincinnati.

Freese hit .293 with 20 home runs and 79 runs batted in in 144 games last season, when he also earned his first All-Star team selection. He was voted the most valuable player in both the World Series and National League Championship Series in 2011.

FIFA tosses Costa Rica snow protest

ZURICH, Switzerland, March 26 (UPI) -- Costa Rica's protest about having to play a soccer World Cup qualifier against the United States in the snow has been thrown out, FIFA said Tuesday.

The United States took a 1-0 victory last Friday during a game that was played on a snow-covered field in Colorado. Game officials used a yellow ball to allow for more visibility.

The game was part of the World Cup qualifying process.

Costa Rica formally protested, saying the snow made the field unplayable. FIFA, the international organization that oversees soccer, dismissed the protest Tuesday and let the result stand.

"FIFA has examined the content of the letter and, taking into consideration article 14, paragraph 4 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup regulations, has confirmed that the conditions established in the regulations for an official protest have not been met by the Costa Rica [Football Association]," read a statement on FIFA's official website. "Therefore, the result of the match played on 22 March stands and is considered as valid."

Both teams continue the qualifying process Tuesday with the United States playing at Mexico and Costa Pica playing at home against Jamaica.

Djokovic, Bryans in Davis Cup series

BOISE, Idaho, March 26 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and the No. 1-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, will be part of the Serbia versus United States Davis Cup series next week.

Djokovic and Viktor Troicki were tabbed for the singles matches for Serbia against Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey for the best-of-five series April 5-7 on an indoors hard court in Boise, Idaho.

The order of the singles matches Friday and Sunday will be announced next week. The Bryan brothers would take on Serbs Nenad Zimonjic and Illija Bozoljac in the doubles match Saturday.

Serbia won the Davis Cup for the first time in 2010 -- a series generally marked as the point where Djokovic's career truly took off. The United States has won a record 32 Davis Cup titles, with the most recent coming in 2007.

The Serbia-United States winner advances to the Davis Cup semifinals Sept. 13-15 against either Canada or Italy.

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