By Doug Halberstadt
It’s been almost two-and-a-half years — 923 days, to be exact — since Tiger Woods last won a PGA Tour event. That streak came to a screeching halt last Sunday (March 25) when Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Fla. It was a record-setting seventh time he’s won that tournament.
It was only two weeks ago that Woods was taken off Doral in the middle of the final round with tightness in his left Achilles tendon, the same injury that caused him to miss three months last year, including two majors. That injury raised several questions about when he would be able to play again.
It turned out to be just a mild strain, and Sunday was the eighth-straight day Woods played golf — starting with a practice round a week ago at Augusta. Now, the only question is, will he be able to rule the sport of golf like he once did?
We might get an answer to that question sooner than later. Woods is scheduled to compete at Augusta when the Masters Tournament gets under way April 5. He will be looking to end a four-year drought at the Masters. He will also be going for his 15th major title. That would put him just three short of his goal of surpassing the all-time record set by Jack Nicklaus.
He entered the fourth round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in a familiar position: leading. This was the 38th time in 40 attempts he’s won a tournament when he’s held the lead going into the final round. “He was a man on a mission today,” caddie Joe LaCava said. “He was pretty jacked up. He was out there to prove himself.”
“I am excited, no doubt,” Woods said following Sunday’s win. “I’m looking forward to the momentum I’ve built here.” It was the first time Woods had all four rounds under par since the 2010 Masters. “It does feel good. It feels really good,” Woods said before signing his card. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”
His closing-round 2-under par-70 gave him a five-shot win over runner-up Graeme McDowell.
With Woods’ recent resurgence, it should make this year’s Masters Tournament all the more exciting. Hurry up, April 5!
From the March 28-April 3, 2012, issue