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Trio have chance to top rankings

Defending champion Adam Scott is one of three players who can replace the absent Tiger Woods as world number one in this week's US Masters.

Four-time winner Woods is missing the Masters for the first time in his career after undergoing surgery on a pinched nerve in his back last week.

That leaves the way clear for Scott, Henrik Stenson or Jason Day to claim top spot in the rankings for the first time in their careers, although they will all need good performances at Augusta National.

Scott, who won his first major title 12 months ago in a play-off with Angel Cabrera, will pass Woods if he finishes joint third, with no more than one other player, or better on Sunday.

The 33-year-old Australian looked set to arrive at Augusta as number one with a victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational - where Woods was unable to defend his title - but squandered a seven-shot halfway lead at Bay Hill to finish third.

Stenson could also have claimed top spot with victory in the Shell Houston Open last week, but the European number one could only finish joint 54th.

The Swede, whose best Masters finish is a tie for 17th in 2007 and 2008, will need to finish joint second, with no more than one other player, or better to overtake Woods.

World number four Jason Day has not played since he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February due to a thumb injury, but the Australian has declared himself fit and can become world number one with a maiden major title.

Day has an impressive record at Augusta, finishing second on his debut in 2011 and third behind compatriot Scott 12 months ago.

Speaking about the chance to become world number one, Day said: "I'm just not trying to think of that. I can't get to number one if I don't win, so my biggest thing is just to really focus on myself.

"I just need to go out and not really think about the outcomes that could possibly happen or get caught up in stuff that can make my game go backwards.

"I think that's what mental toughness is, to be able to stay in the present and really focus on what you need to do to produce the result in the long run. My goal is obviously to be able to get to number one one day and to have a green jacket, and I can do that in one week.

"That's exciting stuff for me because I know that there's been a lot of hard work and dedication that I've put into the game for many, many years, and it could all pay off in one week. But stuff like that, you've got to put it out of your mind."